The Lilongwe Magistrate Court Monday denied bail to 16 Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) officials arrested last week for allegedly misusing part of the K6.2 billion meant for Covid fight.
Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa said there was a need to give the State time to investigate the issue.
One of the accused, Dodma Deputy Director Fyabupi Mwafongo, has been charged with abuse of office for allegedly authorising payment of subsistence allowances and lunch allowances totalling K4,628 000.
Chirwa could, however, not grant the State 14 days it asked for. He, instead, said seven days would be enough to finalise the probe.
“The State has managed to satisfy this court that there was not enough time to do investigations. I grant seven days to push their investigations,” said Chirwa in his ruling.
Last week, defence lawyers argued before the court that the suspects be granted bail because they had permanent residences and could not leave the country.
One of the defence lawyers Paweni Nkhata said they would reapply for bail after seven days.
“The court has ruled that the State needs seven days, after which we are free to come and make an application for bail. We will reapply for bail next Monday after the seven days,” Nkhata said.
The 16 officials are answering charges of abuse of office and theft by public servant.
President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered a probe into how Covid funds were used, announcing on Sunday that results of the exercise would be known in a month.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.