Malawi Police Service (MPS) say they have secured a warrant of arrest from the court for former President Joyce Banda in relation to her alleged involvement in cashgate.
National Police publicist James Kadadzera confirmed the development in an interview today. He said the arrest warrant was issued in February 2017.
However, People’s Party (PP) acting president Uladi Mussa said the party was not aware of the existence of the arrest warrant against their leader, who is currently in self-imposed exile.
Earlier in the day, the National Police Press and Public Relations Office issued a statement, which was signed by Kadadzera himself, stating that the police unearthed credible evidence against Banda’s involvement in abuse of office and money-laundering cases.
“As the nation is aware, some Malawians have been asking questions on what the Malawi Police Service is doing on the suspected involvement of the former President of the Republic of Malawi, Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, in ‘cashgate’ cases.
“The Malawi Police Service wishes to inform Malawians that its Fiscal and Fraud Section conducted some investigations on the suspected involvement of the former President in cashgate cases and unearthed credible evidence. The evidence gathered raises reasonable suspicion that the former President committed offences relating to abuse of office and money laundering,” reads the statement in part.
But when asked why it had taken the police this long to effect or announce the existence of the arrest warrant, Kadadzera said the Fiscal and Fraud Section was still conducting investigations to ascertain Banda’s involvement in cashgate-related cases.
He further disclosed that because Banda is in self-imposed exile, the Malawi Police have notified International Police (Interpol) member states about the existence of this warrant of arrest.
He expressed optimism that the member states would cooperate and help in tracking her down and get her extradited to Malawi to face the charges in court.
“The evidence gathered raises reasonable suspicion that the former President committed offences relating to abuse of office and money laundering. This warrant of arrest is in force and necessary legal formalities are being pursued,” explains the statement.
It adds that the ‘public interest that cashgate cases have generated’ necessitated them to announce the existence of the warrant.
“It is not the standard practice for the Malawi Police Service to make known to the public the fact that a warrant of arrest is in force against on an individual,” it says.
In reaction, Mussa feared the development could be motivated by something else other than her involvement in the cashgate.
“I cannot comment much. But I think they (Police) are basing this on hearsay from those already arrested and are now serving jail terms. Everything needs evidence before arresting someone,” he said.