Sabotage suspects set to be freed

23Sep 2019
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Sabotage suspects set to be freed

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday advised judicial authorities to hold talks with all suspects being held for economic sabotage so that those who confess and ready to repay the monies be released in a period of seven days.

PRESIDENT John Magufuli.



If implemented, this might see accused persons being held in various remand prisons—including those facing money laundering and tax fraud—set free.

The Head of State was speaking in Dar es Salaam at an event to swear in senior public officials who were recently appointed to various positions including ambassadors and Regional Administrative Secretaries (RAS).

“Now that the DPP and Solicitor General are here let me request you and others who are working on criminal justice that there are people who are in remand for economic sabotage for years. They are suffering – I watch them on television being taken to court. If they are ready to confess and commit themselves to return the money, let them be released and the negotiation process should start tomorrow to next Saturday,” the president directed.

The move means all the suspects facing unbailable economic sabotage charges now have an opportunity to negotiate their freedom with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

President Magufuli urged DPP Biswalo Mganga, who was in attendance at the ceremony, to immediately start negotiating with the held suspects.

The Head of State said it was possible that some of them who have been in jail for more than three years or so are willing to ask for forgiveness and directed the government team to negotiate with them and agree as to how they will repay the money.

“They should also swear that they will never repeat such offences,” the president intoned.

High profile individuals who are behind bars for economic sabotage and money laundering charges include investigative journalist Eric Kabendera and prominent businessmen Harbinder Singh Sethi and James Rugemalira.

Sethi and Rugemalira are facing 350bn/- economic sabotage and money laundering charges. Kabendera is charged with abetting organized crime and evading 173.2m/- in taxes.

Others battling unbailable economic sabotage charges in court include former Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) commissioner general Harry Kitilya.

Kitilya - along with former head of investment banking at Stanbic Bank Shose Sinare, former chief legal counsel with the bank Sioi Sumari and two former senior Finance ministry officials Bedason Shallanda and Alfred Misana – was charged with organized crime, forgery, falsifying documents, obtaining money by false pretences, money laundering and occasioning the government a 12bn/- loss.

This comes at a time when the government is proposing plea bargaining in the criminal justice system which allows defendants in criminal cases to plead guilty at first hearing in return for withdrawal of charges or a more lenient sentence.

The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No 4) Bill that was introduced in the National Assembly for its first reading on 26 June seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) to accommodate the changes.

The system is accepted in several countries, to help reduce the backlog of cases in courts, alleviate prison congestion and ensure timely delivery of justice.

In his speech Dr Magufuli said firing and hiring was one of the more tiresome tasks that he finds hectic and challenging, urging the newly sworn public officials to work hard.

“Sometimes I am forced to fire and hire because it pains me, for example in Morogoro there was need to make it a demonstration region by firing all officials from the RC to the Ward Executive Officers (WEO). It does not make sense for the Prime Minister move all the way to Morogoro to reveal negative acts of municipal officials,” he said.

He said he sacked then Morogoro regional Commissioner Dr Kebwe Steven Kebwe due to underperformed as he did not act when required to do so.

President also blasted Dar es Salaam regional authorities on the Coco Beach project saying they are using a huge amount of money compared to what needs to be done there.

The Kinondoni municipal authorities have set out plans to renovate the Coco Beach amusement facility by expending a stupendous 14bn/-.