Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni has said the State is expected to parade at least 15 witnesses in the Cement-gate case involving the irregular use of former president Peter Mutharika’s Tax Payer Identification Number (TPIN).
Yesterday, four accused persons—namely Mutharika’s former personal bodyguard Norman Chisale, former State Residences director general Peter Mukhitho, reinstated Malawi Revenue Authority Deputy Commissioner General Roza Mbilizi and businessman Shafee Ahmed Chunara— appeared before High Court Judge Redson Kapindu to be formally charged and take plea but failed because the State had not served disclosures to lawyers of Chisale.
After the case failed to start, Kayuni told reporters that the State had 33 witnesses.
He, however, said, since 33 is a big number, they would settle for 15 witnesses.
Kayuni justified the move, saying letting 33 people testify would entail a very long trial.
Asked if Mutharika would be among the witnesses, Kayuni said it was too early to comment on that but was quick to note that Mutharika’s statement is among the disclosures made available to the court.
Before the court resumed sitting Monday, both State and defence lawyers went into an informal meeting to discuss issues related to disclosures and directions of the case.
And when the case was called to order, defence lawyers, through Chunara’s lawyer Emmanuel Theu, told the court that they needed more time, about seven days, to look at the disclosures and the charge sheet and raise any objections.
Theu further indicated that the State would need another seven days to respond to the queries.
The defence argued that the State had not served disclosures to Chisale’s lawyer Fostino Maere.
Kayuni told the court that the confusion on the disclosures had come about because defence lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa, who is said to have represented Chisale in the subordinate court, had switched clients to Chunara.
He further said the development had resulted in Khonyongwa getting two sets of disclosures.
However, Khonyongwa dismissed Kayuni’s sentiments, saying he has, all along, represented Chunara in the case.
Kapindu, after asking State lawyers if they were comfortable with the suggestion that the case should resume either on February 25 or the end of March, adjourned the case to March 29 2022.
Chisale, Mukhitho, Mbilizi and Chunara are suspected of playing a part in the importation of 400,000 bags of cement worth K3.2 billion duty-free from Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2018 and 2019 using Mutharika’s TPIN.