The Magistrate Court in Blantyre on Thursday declined to invalidate the warrant of arrest for former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda, who was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Wednesday.
ACB deputy director and prosecutor Reyneck Matemba briefs reporters
Chaponda’s lead attorney Jai Banda speak to reporters
The ACB arested Chaponda alongside businessman Rashid Tayub (Director of Transglobe Produce Export Limited) and Grace Mijiga Mhango an entrepreneur and chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi for their dubious involvement in the procurement maize from Zambia.
Lawyers for Chaponda, Jai Banda and Madalitso Mpeta, together with Lusungu Gondwe for Tayub, applied to court to suspend the warrant of arrest for their client and two other suspects, arguing that the State, through the ACB, “blatantly” and flouted the terms amd prescriptions contained in the warrant.
The defence team also argued that the graft bursting body undermined the rule of law and the authority of the court.
But Chief Resident Magistrate Semion Mdeza turned down the application and ordered the ACB to take the suspects to Court on Friday, July 21 to take plea.
While Chaponda’s legal team was fighting to have the warrant of arrest invalidated, lawyer for Mijiga Mhango, Chrispin Ndalama applied and secured bail for her client at the Lilongwe Senior Magistrate Court.
Mhango appeared before Lilongwe Senior Magistrate Shyreen Yona, who granted her bail.
Chaponda, according to ACB, faces charges of corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency contrary to Section 25A (1), 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Regulation 25A (1) of the Exchange Control Regulations as read with Section 3 of the Exchange Control Act, respectively.
Mhango, who spend Wednesday night at Kanengo Police Station in Lilongwe, will charged with forgery contrary to Section 351 of the Penal Code while Tayub face charges of influencing a public officer to misuse public office contrary to Section 25B (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
The Bureau obtained a warrant of arrest for the suspects on July 14 2017 and executed the warrants on the three on Wednesday, July 19 2017.
The Bureau has in recent times been under intense pressure and scrutiny on this matter with others claiming that the Bureauin were under instruction from the executive to obstruct justice in this matter for political reasons.
But Ndala said in a statement that the ACB is an independent professional institution which operates without any political influence .
She justified the delay to arrest the suspects by saying that the process of investigations can be complicated and needs to be conducted with due process and detailed care,”said Ndala.
Ndala claimed the Bureau empathizes with the concerns of the public for speedy investigations but quickily pointed out that such calls, in a democracy, need to be balanced with the due process required under the law.
Chaponda’s arrest has attracted public interest as it involves the role he played in the Zambia maize procurement deal, commonly referred to as Maizegate.
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