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Cement case delays worry Mohamed Shafee Chunara

Steven Kayuni

First accused in the case involving the importation of cement, Mohamed Shafee Chunara, Tuesday expressed concern over continued delays in starting the case.

Chunara, alongside his father Ahmed, former State Residences director-general Peter Mukhito, former president Peter Mutharika’s former personal bodyguard Norman Chisale and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Deputy Commissioner- General Roza Mbilizi are being accused of playing a part in the importation of K5 billion worth of cement from Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2018 and 2020 using Mutharika’s Taxpayer Identification Number.

Speaking in court before High Court Judge Redson Kapindu Tuesday, Chunara’s lawyer, Bright Theu, accused the State of deliberately deploying delaying tactics to delay the case even further.

According to Theu, four of the accused persons in the case were arrested in July 2020 but they are yet to take plea in the matter.

He said the State decided to bring in a fifth witness in the case someone-and-a-half years down the line.

“This is a matter that started in July 2020 and it had not come into the court until recently and what we recall is that efforts were made to bring the matter to court after we had made a few applications.

“These applications rested on the fact that the prosecution was delaying [issues]. Even if you forget that, we started progress in this case. This matter was set for hearing today and the business of the court today was to address the preliminary objections that had been raised by the parties,” Theu said.

He observed that, when the court met yesterday, the State was not ready to address it on the preliminary objections, despite the court setting time limits through which certain documents had to be filed.

However, Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni hit back at the defence, accusing it of not being sincere.

Kayuni said the case involves five accused persons and that the schedules of their lawyers are different.

During yesterday’s session, Kapindu turned down an application by the State for the court to fix bail conditions for Mukhitho and Mbilizi so that they could be similar to those of the other three accused in the case.

Kapindu faulted the State for how it brought the application, saying such an application needed to be brought using an affidavit.

Kapindu however, advised that the State could still make a fresh application on the matter following the right procedure.

The judge, on the other hand, allowed the State’s application to have the case of Ahmed Chunara, who was arrested on Monday, be combined with the main case and that Chunara Senior join the case as the fifth accused.

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