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Collins Magalasi lawyers against use of Mera audit report

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By Taonga Sabola

Lawyers representing former Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) chief executive officer Collins Magalasi and three others Wednesday objected to the use of the 2019/20 Mera Audit Report.

The lawyers said the report contains other issues which form the basis of another case before the courts.

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Magalasi, business woman Dorothy Shonga Nkhoma, Mera Procurement Officer Bright Mbewe and former public relations officer Patrick Maulidi are being accused of having a hand in a K107 million deal which Mera gave to Vink Enterprises belonging to Shonga Nkhoma, business partner of Magalasi.

On Wednesday, the State paraded two witnesses, Mera Director of Finance Zachariah Ng’oma and the organisation’s Internal Auditor and Risk Officer Alexander Ganiza.

It all started when Ganiza took to the witness box and Senior Assistant State Advocate Dziko Malunda referred him to the 2019/20 Mera Audit Report.

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Ganiza said the report revealed that Mera spent more than double the budgeted amount when purchasing corporate cloth.

He said, initially, the cloth was budgeted at K12 million but the amount was revisited to K16 million and that, in the end, the amount rose to K43.8 million.

Defence lawyer Andy Kaonga objected to the use of the audit report, claiming that it contained matters that formed the basis of another case in which Magalasi and Mbewe are being accused of irregularly purchasing a Mera fuel testing van.

Kaonga said it would be better for the state to extract the pages which are relevant to the current case and use them rather than using a document that has many cases.

“We are not saying they should not use the report but they should extract the part that is relevant to this case and use it and use the remaining part in another case.

“You can’t bring information that refers to two or three cases in one case. It’s prejudicial to an accused person,” Kaonga said.

But Malunda pleaded with the court to overrule the objection, saying the State saw no reason why the use of the audit report would be prejudicial to the accused persons.

Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has since adjourned the case to Thursday morning when the court will rule on the matter.

Magalasi, Shonga Nkhoma and others were arrested in July last year before they were granted bail in early August.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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