Cashgate suspect Paul Mphwiyo, who has been missing since last month, was given back his passport in 2015, heightening fears that he is now outside Malawi.
Mphwiyo is reported missing and was last seen in Blantyre in June this year, weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the High Court can deliver judgement in the K2.4 billion Cashgate case in which Mphwiyo and others are accused of defrauding the state.
The case started in 2014 and Mphwiyo surrendered his travelling documents to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) as part of his bail conditions.
He also paid four cash sureties worth K2 million each and bonded his Area 43 house.
Mphwiyo who was shot by a gunman in 2013 later applied to be allowed to travel to South Africa for medical treatment but was denied permission on several occasions as ACB feared that he planned to jump bail.
In 2015, High Court judge Charles Mkandawire ordered that Mphwiyo should travel to South Africa for medical attention on July 19 and return by August 2 the same year.
The court further ordered Mphwiyo to surrender a copy of air ticket to the ACB and to surrender his passport to the Malawi High Commission upon arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa.
He was also ordered to give back the passport to the bureau upon his to Malawi.
However, the bureau has told the local media that the passport was never given back to the bureau.
“The passport was released to Mr. Paul Mphwiyo pursuant to a court order dated 13th July 2015 to allow him travel to South Africa for medical issues. The bureau was simply complying with a court order,” said ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala.
She added that Mphwiyo last reported to the bureau on 19 June this year and the bureau will apply for revocation of his bail if by the date of next reporting he does not show up.
Meanwhile, lawyer John Gift Mwakhwawa, speaking to Nation on Sunday, has faulted the ACB for negligence of duty saying the bureau had a duty to ensure that Mphwiyo returned his passport.
“They are the arresting and prosecuting authority. The court can only be moved by the ACB, the court cannot move itself in terms of surrendering of the passport. That was the responsibility of the ACB and they have abdicated their duty,” he said.
Footage from the last day he was seen show that Mphwiyo boarded a plane at Kamuzu International Airport for a half-hour flight from Blantyre to LIlongwe
In Blantyre, he booked himself at the affluent Ryalls Hotel at the heart of the Blantyre Commercial Business District, but only spent about ten minutes inside the hotel. He was captured on CCTV leaving the hotel on foot and has not been seen since.
National Police Headquarters spokesperson Peter Kalaya said police are investigating a case of a missing person after Mphwiyo’s wife lodged a complaint.
Mphwiyo was shot in 2013, days after several cases of civil servants being found with wads of cash.
At the time, he was Budget Director in the Ministry of Finance and it was said that he was shot because he was fighting corruption but a twist emerged when he was arrested for allegedly being involved in the massive plunder of public funds known as cashgate.
In 2020, Mphwiyo was found with a case to answer by the High Court.
Former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara, his associate Pika Manondo and ex-military personnel Macdonald Kumwembe were sentenced in 2016 over the shooting of Mphwiyo.