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Friday, 19 October 2018 12:24

Jailed Standard Bank K500 million-robber threatens to deal with magistrate

Written by  Chonanga Mhone

Mzuzu, October 18, 2018: Mzuzu Principal Magistrate Cuthbert Phiri Wednesday accused former police officer convicted in the Standard Bank robbery of K534 million in Mzuzu in 2014 of planning to deal with him after release from prison.

Phiri accused Ken Kamwambi before sentencing him to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for the role he played in the robbery on September 3, 2014 at the Mzuzu Branch Standard Bank.

“I heard from reliable sources that you, Mr. Kamwambi, are planning to deal with me either directly or indirectly,” Magistrate Phiri said.

He then asked the defense counsel to say something on the matter, so lawyer George Kazipatike asked the court for two minutes to discuss the issue with his client in private, which the court granted.

After a brief conversation with the convict, the defense lawyer said his client denied the allegations and that as a counsel they would not tolerate that.

Then the magistrate asked the State counsel to also say something on the matter.

State prosecutor Jacob Nambiri said the plans were unfortunate and that if anything bad happens to any party to the case, people will be able to connect it to the allegations raised by the court.

After comments from both the defense and State counsels, Magistrate Phiri said he works without fear and favour and that he is always transparent.

“If you are not satisfied with my sentence you are free to appeal to the High Court,” Phiri said.

Before sentencing, the magistrate bemoaned the way Kamwambi planned the robbery act. He said it was unfortunate that, as a police officer, he used police equipment such as uniform to commit the crime.

He then sentenced Kamwambi to 14 years IHL starting from June 19, 2016 when his bail was revoked.

Phiri convicted Kamwambi on September 28, 2018 after being convinced that during the four-year trial, the State proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was highly connected to the crime.

During the long trial, the state, through Nambiri, paraded 17 witnesses and produced other pieces of evidence including two cars which were used to commit the robbery.

The vehicles were later impounded by police and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officers at Jenda in Mzimba who managed to recover a larger part of the money.

In his over-three-hour ruling, Phiri acquitted the first and second accused persons, Charles Moffat and Amos Jere for lack of substantial evidence against them.

The robbery occurred hours after Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) had delivered money from its headquarters in Lilongwe to the Standard Bank Branch in Mzuzu for routine keeping.

Some people, including employees of Standard Bank were arrested in connection with the robbery.

Most of them were released and became witnesses leaving out three people, namely, former Standard Bank employee Charles Moffat, security guard Amos Jere and interdicted police officer Kamwambi, to answer robbery and theft charges.

In his testimony, Moffat kept on repeating that he felt someone, who had prior knowledge of the bank’s operations, was involved in the robbery as the robbers were conversant with many banking technicalities.

Later, the court also hinted that some members of staff at the RBM and Standard Bank might have been involved in the plan to rob the bank. 

“As far as the information that the first accused [Moffat] is giving is concerned, allow me to say that if there were serious investigations in the case, I do believe that other officers would have been arrested either from RBM or Standard Bank as, surely, there was a line.

“Let us, however, see what will happen as we continue with the case,” Phiri said during a hearing on January 18.

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