According to Eastern Region Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) Inspector Joseph Sauka, the suspects are identified as Stonken Chavunda aged 32, the prison warder, Batson Fletcher aged 36, James Banda aged 45 and Bartholomew Njala aged 21 for allegedly stealing from Noel Itimu.
Sauka said Itimu received a call on August 17, 2018 from an unknown person introducing himself as an Airtel employee who wanted to know if Itimu had upgraded his sim card to 4G, claiming that it was more secure to do so.
He said Itimu ignored the caller but after an hour he realized that his mobile phone failed to function due to network problems and this compelled him to report to Airtel office which discovered that Itimu’s number had been hacked.
“The Airtel office discovered that Itimu’s cash had already been transferred to another number through Airtel Money transaction,” said Sauka.
“After a thorough follow up it was discovered that the money was cashed out through Airtel agent near Zomba Central Hospital who was arrested to explain further on the transacted amount of cash,” added the police spokesperson.
The PRO added that the arrest of an Airtel Money agent led to the arrest of Njala of Chinamwali Township who cashed the money and later surrendered it to Sergeant Banda of Zomba Maximum Prison.
Sauka said Banda revealed that he handed the cash to a convict Batson Fletcher who said the cash was transferred to his Airtel Money account by another convict Chavunda who is currently serving a 50 year jail term at the correctional facility.
He said Chavunda was arrested and confessed that he stole the money by swapping sim card after calling Airtel Customer Care to replace a number.
“He convinced the customer care centre that he lost his handset and sim card,” Sauka said, adding that the number was replaced and after checking the account Chavunda discovered that the account had K150,000 which he cashed with the help of fellow convict Fletcher and the prison warder.
Sauka said Police have since recovered the cash as the suspects have already been charged with the offence of theft contrary to section 278 of the penal code.
He said the four have since been remanded to Zomba Prison and are waiting to appear in court soon.
Chavunda comes from Maida Village in Traditional Authority T/A Kapichi in Thyolo while Fletcher, Njala and Banda hail from the area of T/A Mwambo in Zomba.