Prosecution has revealed that seven former employees of Ministry of Health (Minisante) caused a loss of Rwf 5.8 billion to the government in fraudulent tendering processes of faulty medical equipment purchased in the last five years.
The suspects include: Theogene Ntamuhungu, JMV Birasa, Emmanuel Birindabahizi, Jean Claude Zimulinda, Fred Kayitare, Richard Uwimana, and Justine Gashema.
The list does not include Jean Paul Mugabo who was indicated as a suspect in the first court appearance on July 11, 2018.
In a case that is being tried by Nyamirambo primary court, all suspects are charged with the crime of involvement in illegal tender procedures.
However, five of them share a case of amassing undeclared wealth and using forged documents. Another case that involves four suspects is: conducting operation contrary to work’s procedures.
The team appeared before the court to battle a provisional detention case which they had appealed with objections on process of arrests and investigation, but were trashed by court as baseless on July 18.
“All the suspects were accomplices in the procurement of faulty machinery which was distributed in all hospitals and health centers and posts across the country,” said lead prosecutor Faustin Munyamahoro accompanied by Emmanuel Nkubito.
“This is evident in the Public Account Committee (PAC) reports which listed many of the equipment as dysfunctional even before getting used.”
Prosecution argued that five of the accused had responsibility of preparing tender technical specifications. However, they made it hard for local companies to bid.
For example, it is alleged that local companies were required to provide certification by German institute of standardization (DIN) – an equivalent of Rwanda Standards Board (RSB).
Prosecution stated that all the tenders for supplying medical equipment were only won by Joh Achelis International (Germany) which was represented by Justine Gashema, the head of Joh Achelis Rwanda ltd as an entrepreneur and legal presentative.
“This certification was only provided by another Germany distribution company which refused to allow any tender Proforma Invoice from Rwanda since they had a representative- who is Joh Achelis International,” said prosecutor Munyamahoro.
Faulty lights for Byumba Hospital Operation Room
Using over four hours to prove how the rest of the suspects were accomplices, prosecution juggled between paperwork to show evidence on each of the suspects who were directly involved in processing and accessing the purchased equipment.
For example prosecution indicated how two tenders offered to Joh Achelis procured and delivered faulty surgical lights in Byumba hospital which were not different from any other lights that can be purchased elsewhere.
The defense trashed prosecution’s allegations saying on the ground that “there is no concrete evidence to prove any of the above.”
One suspect, Theogene Ntamuhungu, former Head of Planning argued that the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary (chief budget officer) and infrastructure development committee had the last word in tender offers.
“I am shocked by these allegations and it’s painful indeed that prosecution which is supposed to know better evidence is the one accusing me of what I never did. I was not an employee of Minisante but of RBC- which begs the question how could I deal with tenders and where my role is?” Ntamuhungu asked.
Assisted by lawyer David Rugaza, they both argued that Ntamuhungu was singled out of many ministry staff yet the decisions on the tenders were made by many people.
“A report produced by the ad-hoc team showed that the tendering process was done well, how can prosecution contradicts this report which was made by a team of experts?” Lawyer David Rugaza said.
The hearing will continue on Thursday-July 19 where the five remaining suspects are expected to be heard.