By Kondanani Chilimunthaka
One of Malawi’s business tycoons, Thom Mpinganjira has been sentenced to 9 years imprisonment with hard labour in the morning of October 5, 2021 for being found guilty on 2 counts which both are related to attempt bribery to the 5 Constitutional Judges who presided over the Presidential Election Case number 1 of 2019.
It is alleged that Mpinganjira who was the Chief Executive Officer for FDH bank by then, wanted to bribe the judges to favor the former President Peter Mutharika and his party (DPP) in ruling, an offer which was turned down by the judges leading to investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau and subsequently his arrest.
Making her ruling over the cases, after having submissions from lawyers representing the convict and those of the State, Judge Dorothy De Gabriel told the court that according to part 4 of Corrupt Practices Act to which Mpinganjira has been found guilty, one is punishable by a term of 12 years imprisonment, adding that Section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act under part 4 states that: *”Any person who is guilty of any offence under this part, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of 12 years.”
Judge De Gabriel continued by saying that in statutory interpretation, the sentence that is normally indicated in the law is normally treated as the maximum sentence available for a sentence in Court.
“The sentence in Court imposes the sentence in its discretion within that maximum sentence, although the imposition of full maximum sentence remains open to the sentence in Court. However it is understood that the imposition of maximum sentence is reserved for the worst offender.. “, read part of the Judge’s sentence in the Court.
Quoting references from a case study narrated in her ruling, Judge De Gabriel said the Court subscribes to the words of the Judge in the referral case and that regardless of the convict’s uprightness and despite being the first offender, his actions showed a desperate conduct coupled with impunity to consider one as being above the law and use of power, influence and wealth which shows that there was a high likelihood that he may do it again.
She said the offence committed by Mpinganjira is a serious one. After reading the ruling, De Gabriel told the Court that the Convict was adamant to succeed in his actions without any consideration of consequences of his actions. She then passed a sentence of 9 years on the first offence and 9 years on the fourth count with hard labour, but said the two sentences will run concurrently since they were committed in one transaction.