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Court hears Paul Mphwiyo case in camera

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The High Court in Lilongwe, Wednesday, heard in camera the case in which former budget director, Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others are answering charges of laundering K2.4 billion.

Justice Esmie Chombo announced that cross-examination of first state witness, Leonard Kalonga, involved what she called sensitive documents and asked members of the public to excuse the court.

“We have some documents that require that we clear the courtroom of the members of the general public. We will have to continue hearing the testimony in camera because of the sensitivity of the documents that we will be using, which border on national security and we can only have the members of the bar and the accused. The rest will have to excuse us,” Chombo said.

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When the court sat for proceedings yesterday afternoon, lawyers for Mphwiyo, Titus Mvalo and Shadreck Mhango continued asking Kalonga some questions connected to his engagement as first state witness in the case and the mentioning of Mphwiyo in his witness statement.

Mvalo asked if Kalonga was testifying against Mphwiyo as part of vengeance or not.

Kalonga told the court that when the Cashgate issues came to light, Mphwiyo had assured him and other Cashgate participants of total protection from any disciplinary action within government but it later transpired that it was only Mphwiyo and former accountant general, David Kandoje, who enjoyed the protection.

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Kalonga, however, said although he felt Mphwiyo betrayed and deceived him about the protection promise, being a witness in the case is not necessarily out of anger or need for vengeance but his desire to say something on Cashgate to clear his conscience.

“It was not a matter of trying to express my anger. It was a matter of what any meaningful citizen of this country could [do] to help in the process of justice,” Kalonga said.

Mhango then touched on the issue of Kalonga’s Cashgate-related conviction and whether such a conviction which, according to Mhango, is based on Kalonga’s dishonesty and deceitful life, does taint his testimony or not.

But Kalonga, who said it was up to the court to decide whether to take him seriously or not, defended his testimony.

“My testimony is not tainted. It is the truthful account of what happened on issues around Cashgate,” he said.

Earlier, Mvalo asked Kalonga to give a narration of the direction leading to an office that housed Mphwiyo at Capital Hill at the time of their alleged Cashgate affairs in 2013.

Mvalo suggested that at an appropriate time, the Court should visit the office to test the correctness of the map that Kalonga provided.

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