Court sentences head teacher to six years in prison, orders seizure of his property
The convict got around the monitoring system by forging stamps, other authorization documents, and the signatures of three officials, allowing him to easily access bank services (By Tionge Hara)
Malawi: The First Grade Magistrate's Court in Nkhata Bay District has convicted and sentenced Hannock Kamanga 36, of Kapalapata Village Traditional Authority Timbiri, the former head teacher for Mtazi Primary School in the district to 6 years imprisonment with hard labour and ordered the seizure of his personal property for wasting government money totalling K11, 000, 000.00 (Eleven Million Malawi Kwacha) meant for a school project.
According to Nkhata Bay police spokesperson Sergeant Kondwani James, the court heard through state prosecutor Imed Isaac that the government entrusted Kamanga with project funds totalling K17, 000, 000.00 (Seventeen Million Malawi Kwacha) in 2021 for the construction of the school's headmaster's house.
Apart from the role of the district monitoring team, Kamanga was tasked with taking the lead in managing funds at all levels.
The court also heard that only K500, 000.00 (five hundred thousand kwacha) of the total amount deposited into a bank account was properly used, while the rest of the cash was looted.
Kamanga got around the monitoring system by forging stamps, other authorization documents, and the signatures of three officials, allowing him to easily access bank services.
On September 16, 2022, Kamanga was arrested at Nkhata Bay Police Station for failing to account for all bank transactions. Police charged him with four counts of forgery of stamps, forgery of official documents, altering false documents, and theft by a public servant, all in violation of Penal Code sections 359 (a), 358, 360, and 283 (1).
On October 21, 2022, Kamanaga appeared in court and pleaded guilty to all charges, prompting the court to convict him.
In his submissions, prosecutor Imed requested a harsh penalty, claiming that the civil servant's actions harmed not only the school but also the nation as a whole. Imed went on to say that the house would have benefited both the convict and subsequent teachers.
Imed came to the conclusion that organised crimes like this attract serious deterrent punishment for other civil servants with similar evil intentions.
In mitigation, Kamanga pleaded for leniency, claiming that he has significant family responsibilities with a two-month-old baby. He also stated that he has a back problem and that incarceration would be detrimental to his health.
When passing the sentence, Magistrate Ezekiel Kamtikana agreed with the state, observing that offences committed by officials entrusted by the government with large projects like this have an impact on the development and growth of society. Kamtikana also stated that the court cannot be lenient with civil servants who waste public funds.
As a result, the magistrate sentenced Kamanga to 2 years, 3 years, 3 years, and 6 years in prison for the first, second, third, and fourth counts, respectively. However, he stated that the sentences should run concurrently, which means that the convict will only serve 6 years in prison.
The magistrate also ordered the seizure of the convict's property in order for the schoolhouse to be completed.