Hearing have started in the case in which 15 Chikwawa District Health Officers were arrested weeks ago over alleged theft of 28 mattresses at the District Hospital.
Acting District Health Officer for Chikwawa, Dr Winnie Mhone told the First Grade Magistrate sitting at Chikwawa Court on Wednesday during cross examination that she indeed found the mattresses on the veranda of her house and kept them in her house.
“It was in the evening between 7 pm and 8 pm on November 20, 2017 after work when I got a call from Mosses Jere who told me he had sent a driver to drop something at my house which is within the hospital’s premises.
“After sometime, I went to check outside of my front door but I dint find anything. Later, I checked the back door leading to the kitchen where I found two mattresses but I didnt know who actually dropped them there.
I expected to get a call from Jere which I suspected that the something mentioned in our phone call were the two mattresses,” Mhone said, who looked calm and a bit confident but maimed to be under pressure.
She said the following morning when she reported for work, she invited Jere into her office to discuss what led him to direct the driver to leave the mattresses at her house.
“The time I was asking Jere in my office to go home and collect the mattresses so that they be brought back to their place no sooner than some workers had organized and ganged up to deliver their petition at Chikwawa Police Station on the same issues accusing management of mismanagement,” Mhone told the court.
When asked by the defense lawyer, Nickson Masiku of Russell Smith and Associates as to whether at any time there was a meeting at the facility to discuss about the mattresses, Mhone pointed out that indeed on November 7, 2017 there was a District Health Management Team (DHMT) meeting.
“But let me point out that this meeting was on other issues at the health facility and the issue of mattresses came in as any other business where we said there was a need to mobilize resources to buy covers for the mattresses and then distribute them to the health facilities,” Mhone explained.
She told the court that she did not have any guilty conscious on the charges but confessed to have been part of receiving mattresses.
Masiku pleaded with the court that as a defense team they may at any time apply to get the whole conversation from the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) which happened between Jere and Mhone on the night of November 20, 2017 adding that would not stop proceedings of the court in any way.
Chief Residence Magistrate, Diana Mangwana who is handling the case adjourned the case to January 18, 2018 for further hearing.
Commotion and embarrassment ensued on the afternoon of November 21, 2017 in Chikwawa District when the police stormed the homes of both junior and top officers at Chikwawa District Hospital to recover mattresses that were allegedly stolen at the facility a development which later led to the recovery of all 28 mattresses and over 15 officers from the hospital were implicated.