Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director Martha Chizuma has said the State will parade 16 witnesses in the Abdul Karim Batatawala immigration case.
Batatawala, Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services former director general Elvis Thodi, commissioner for operations Fletcher Nyirenda and deputy director Limbani Chawinga were arrested for various offences bordering on corruption and money laundering at the department in a procurement deal.
Trial started Monday, with the State parading two witnesses, namely Immigration’s Superintendent for Human Resource Ernest M’baluku and Procurement expert Edward Jeke.
Chizuma said, owing to the fact that the case dates back to 2019, there was a need to parade as many witnesses as possible.
“This is a very big case and it’s an old case dating from 2019 and we need to comprehensively prove the case to the court,” she said.
The ACB chief said the State was satisfied with the evidence its two witnesses tendered in court.
“Our witnesses remained focused on the evidence and we are very much satisfied with what transpired in court today,” she said.
Defence lawyer Alexious Nampota also said he was satisfied with how the trial started.
“So far, so good. We have started well. We are told the State will parade 16 witnesses; as such, it is a long way to go,” he said.
In his testimony, Jeke said the department erred in using what he called Request for Quotation mode of procurement in place of Restricted Tendering, which was approved by the Office of Director of Public Procurement.
Jeke also said the department erred in extending the contract of K700 million to include other things, blowing the contact sum to K4.7 billion.
Senior Resident Magistrate Martin Chipofya adjourned the case to May 17, when the trial would proceed for a whole week.
The trial started after the State failed to start trial on February 28 due to, among other factors, difficulties to access funds due to challenges with Integrated Financial Management System.