Businessman Abdul Karim Batatawala, Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services former director general Elvis Thodi, the department’s commissioner for operations Fletcher Nyirenda and deputy director Limbani Chawinga have pleaded not guilty to all charges bordering on corruption and money laundering they are facing.
Batatawala’s lawyer Alex Nampota wanted the court to suspend plea-taking until the defence was served with all disclosures but the State objected to the application and Blantyre Senior Resident Magistrate Martin Chipofya dismissed it.
“The accused persons can therefore take plea,” he said.
After plea-taking, Chipofya gave the State up to February 10 to give the defence all the disclosures and 14 days for the defence to respond before the court convenes again on February 28 for scheduling.
The four were arrested in respect to the Department of Immigration and Citizen Services’ uniform procurement deal in 2012.
Chipofya noted that full disclosures could be given even after the four have taken plea.
Batatawala was released on bail on December 21 after paying K800,000 cash bond and producing one surety bonded at K2.5 million non-cash.
He was also told to surrender his passport and travel documents and that he must present himself to Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) offices fortnightly on Friday.
Batatawala was also told not to travel outside Blantyre without ACB officials’ knowledge and that if he needed medical treatment outside Malawi, ACB’s independent doctors must be allowed to assess him.