18 June 2018

Malawi: Court Jails 'Shameful' Mulanje Chief for Defrauding Oxfam Malawi

Photo: Times of Zambia
Court gavel.

The First Grade Magistrate Court in Phalombe has sentenced Group Village Headman Kamwendo of Traditional Authority (TA) Nkanda in Mulanje to 30 months imprisonment for obtaining by fraud K792, 000.00 cash from Oxfam.

A court report indicates that the chief, whose real name is Patrick Gama, used one of his subjects, Owen Banda, to solicit the money on the pretext of representing beneficiaries of Oxfam's Social Cash Transfer who were not present.

Oxfam was conducting a cash transfer programme in Mulanje and Phalombe districts where it was giving free money to ultra-poor households for them to survive.

Phalombe Police arrested Gama 52, on 27 February, 2017 upon receiving a complaint from Oxfam officials about this chief's conduct.

During hearing of the case, state prosecutor Inspector Hartwell Kachikonga asked the court for a stiff punishment as a way of sending a message to people in leadership positions that they will not be spared if found on the wrong side of the law.

"Your Worship, the chief is a public figure in his community and his conduct has brought disrepute to status of traditional leaders. As such, he deserves a stiffer punishment," Kachikonga told the Court.

In mitigation, the accused pleaded for a lenient sentence saying he is a first offender and the bread winner for his family which has 6 children, four of whom are orphans.

In his judgement, first grade magistrate Damson Banda said the traditional leader's act was shameful and sent a bad message to young people who might become crooked leaders in the future hence no need for granting leniency.

The Magistrate then sentenced the accused to two and half years in prison effective 13 June, 2018.

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