edza Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday sentenced gate cashiers Chikaiko Msinde and Lawrence Kasiya to 30 months imprisonment for stealing K218 000 during a TNM Super League match at Dedza Stadium on September 11 this year.
This is the first time in recent years that gate fraud convicts have received a custodial sentence as a deterrent to would-be offenders. Previously, convicts were getting suspended sentences and fines while some suspects were released before trial.
The two, according to State prosecutor Washie Chilonda, were assigned by D&S Event Managers to collect cash at the gates during a match between Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Dedza Dynamos Salima Sugar FC, but were caught hiding the money in their pockets.
Magistrate Clemence Chamwenda said although the convicts did not waste the court’s time by pleading guilty and were first offenders, a custodial sentence was ideal.
He said the sentence aims to “deter would-be offenders, considering that such crimes are rampant in the country”.
Msinde, 25, and Kasiya, 29, come from Kasekaminga village, Traditional Authority Kamenyagwaza in Dedza.
Super League of Malawi (Sulom) and clubs have since welcomed the verdict, describing it as a strong statement that gate revenue needs to be handled with care and respect.
Sulom president Tiya Somba Banda said: “As Sulom, we are satisfied with this sentence as it sends a strong statement to the public that football gate revenues shouldn’t be messed with.
“Just like any other revenues for organisations, gate collections should be treated with care as this is the lifeline of the football industry in the country. We believe would-be offenders will surely be deterred with this. Gate cashiering is a position of trust just like that of a bank teller.”
Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “This is a strong message to the culprits that there is no hiding place. It also means measures of averting gate fraud are beginning to yield desired results.”
But Dedza Dynamos general secretary Mabvuto Mugode said much as they do not condone gate fraud during matches, they feel a custodial sentence for the two cashiers is harsh.
He said: “They could have used precedence of cases similar to this. They could have also investigated the case fully to find out what really happened, especially that Wanderers was a complainant in this case.
“It must also be noted that these convicts mentioned some people, who they say were part and parcel of the syndicate. It only needed an investigation to find out the truth of the matter.”
In June this year, six gate cashiers were convicted and fined by the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court after stealing K440 000 during a Super League match between Mighty Wanderers and Sable Farming at Kamuzu Stadium on April 16.
Over a month ago, Bullets suspended their former accountant Jeremiah Mwagomba pending investigations after he was implicated in a gate fraud scandal at Kamuzu Stadium when Bullets played Waka Waka Tigers.