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Chaponda court hearing set for August 9

FORMER Agriculture minister, George Chaponda and Director of Transglobe Produce Export, Rashid Tayub, were yesterday granted bail at Blantyre Magistrate’s Court by Chief Resident Magistrate, Simeon Mdeza, after their failed attempt to invalidate the warrant of arrests that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) obtained.

Chaponda and Tayub were arrested on Wednesday and spent the whole day at the bureau’s regional office in Blantyre for interrogation, on their involvement in the suspicious maize import from Zambia to the tune of K26 billion.

The two, who pleaded not guilty on all charges, have been released on bail. The bail conditions include K200,000 cash, K2 million surety non-cash, appear before ACB offices every fortnight and surrender all travel documents to ACB.

One of the defence lawyers, Jai Banda, said his clients wanted to be vindicated, saying there has been a public court out there which has wrongly judged them in this whole matter.

“We asked for bail on grounds that, reports that the two would be arrested have always Turn to page 3 been there since the issue started but they never ran away, a clear indication that they know they are not wrong and the court can bring justice on the matter.

“They are prominent people, one is a prominent businessman and the other is a Member of Parliament (MP) and they can’t run away,” he said.

The ACB did not object to the bail application. Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) followers intimidated and used foul language against photojournalists who were trying to take pictures of Chaponda after he and Tayub were granted bail.

“Mumati mutani inuyo, atulukabe abwana. Mwatiyiwala ndife tomwe tiphwanya ma kamera. Timadyera momwemu simungatipose ife… [unprintable words]. Zatheka mumaona ngati agonanso ku polisi lero,” (You thought the boss would not get bail? Look he is out now. We can break your cameras…) chanted the party followers as Chaponda rushed out of the court premises.

Earlier on, the two asked the court to suspend their warrants of arrest, arguing ACB flouted some of the conditions of the warrants. Judiciary spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, said Mdeza refused to suspend the warrants of arrest, arguing ACB acted within its parameters in arresting Chaponda and Tayub.

According to a statement that was issued by the bureau on Wednesday, Chaponda is likely to be charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency contrary to Section 25A (1), 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Regulation 25A (1) of the Exchange Control Regulations as read with Section 3 of the Exchange Control Act, respectively.

While Tayub is likely to be charged with influencing a public officer to misuse his public office contrary to Section 25B (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act. The two will appear before the court again from August 9 to 11 and August 14.

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