Retirees lose K60m

ABOUT K60 million for retirees’ benefits has disappeared from the Ministry of Justice in what is considered to be highly-organised clandestine operation by some senior officers.

The officers allegedly falsified documents purporting that the money was transferred to their lawyer, when not.

Verification payment schedules have revealed that a collective total of K 60 million released by the Ministry did not reach the former civil servants through their lawyer Lukona chambers in unexplained circumstances as shown by the report by the ministry.

The affected retirees are those who voluntarily retired from the public service in 1997 and 1999.

The Voluntary Separatees Association of Zambia (VSAZ) has since given the Ministry of Justice 48 hours in which to clarify the disappearance of the monies and pay the retirees what they are owed, failure to which the ministry would face the wrath of the law.

But when contacted for a comment over the alleged wrong deduction, Ministry of Justice permanent secretary Joseph Akafumba said he was not aware of the disappearance of the money.

Mr Akafumba also said he had not received any communication from VSAZ.

According the alleged falsified documents obtained  by the Daily Nation, monies were purported to have been transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the retirees’ lawyers, Nelly Mutti of Lukona Chambers but never reached the legal team or any of the retirees on the dates indicated.

The theft is believed to have occurred between 23rd April 2009 and 14th February 2013 and is alleged to have been done on five different occasions.

According to the documents, the ministry purported that it paid K10 million on 23rd April 2009 and another K 10 million on15th July 2009 with K 20 million purported to have been transferred to Lukona Chambers on 3rd March, 2011.

Further, the documents indicate that more money was transferred to the retirees’ lawyer with K 10 million being transferred on 4th September 2011 while the same amount was transferred on 5th November, 2011, bringing the total to K 50 million. However, all these moneys did not reflect on the lawyer’s documents.

In a letter by VSAZ general secretary Simemeza Syachoke dated 10th September, 2015 addressed to the permanent secretary for finance at the Ministry of Justice, VSAZ has given the ministry 48 hours to pay the retirees failure to which retirees would demonstrate.

“Sir, your August 2013 report prepared by the ministry shows disparities on how much moneys you paid the Separatees via their former lawyer Madam Nelly Mutti Trading as Lukona Chambers as from 23rd April 2009 to 14th February 2013.  “The report shows that government started paying Separatees on 3rd April, 2009 but the print out from our former lawyer shows otherwise. We now demand to be paid, within 48 hours or we call all the members and demonstrate at State House for President Edgar Lungu’s interventions,” Mr. Syachoke said.

And when contacted to elaborate on the circumstances behind VSAZ’s claim, Mr. Syachoke said he was disappointed that some officers at the ministry could use underhand methods to rob poor Zambians of the little money they had toiled for over a long period of time.

“We discovered this scam after getting some information. We were lucky that we got hold of the same documents you have and we made reconciliations and that is when we discovered that there were a lot of irregularities between the money the ministry is purporting to have paid and what reached our former lawyer.  We have all the details and we shall not rest until this issue is completely sorted out,” he said.

He explained that VSAZ will never rest until justice prevailed over the matter by ensuring whoever was stealing the money was brought to book.

But when contacted for a comment over the development, Mr. Akafumba said he was not aware that VSAZ had written a letter over the matter.

“I am not aware of any letter and am not aware of any falsified documents and so, since you say you have the letter with you, bring it to my office my so that I can have a look at it. That is when I will comment,” Mr. Akafumba said.

However, Mr. Syachoke insisted the letter was delivered to the ministry through the secretary to the registry.

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