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Court rebuffs Anti-Corruption Bureau, George Chaponda

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The Zomba Chief Resident Magistrates’ Court Thursday dismissed two applications by State and defence in the ongoing corruption case involving former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda and one of the directors of Transglobe Export Produce Rashid Tayub.

The court dismissed an application made by the defence which wanted Chaponda and Tayub to be tried separately. The court also dismissed an application by the State to recall witnesses who already testified in Blantyre.

Defence for the second accused, Tayub, asked the court to split the case, saying all the testimonies which deal with holding foreign currency without permission and giving false information to Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) do not apply to him.

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Tayub also put it to the court that his businesses are suffering because banks are not willing to be associated with him while he is on trial.

Acting Chief Resident Magistrate, Paul Chiotcha, said trying the suspects together would not result in miscarriage of justice, saying there is a connection between the offence of attempting to obtain unfair advantage which Tayub is answering and that of influencing a public officer for the misuse of his office which Chaponda is answering.

Defence lawyer for Tayub, Jai Banda, said he was disappointed with the ruling but he is ready to defend the case nevertheless.

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“We are disappointed because most of the time, we will just be sitting in the court listening to the evidence which does not concern us but we are ready to defend the case either way,” he said.

On the application to recall former Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation chief executive officer, Foster Mulumbe, and former director of operations, Feckson Kantonga, Chiotcha said he would not recall the two because the State did not prove that the alleged impartiality concerns they raised against Chief Resident Magistrate for Blantyre Magistrates’ Court, Simeon Mdeza, did not prove the possibility that some key information from the witnesses was being left out.

State Lead Prosecutor, Macmillan Chakhala, said he was at peace with the ruling.

“It was just an application which would have been accepted or denied. We are ready to try the case either way. We are confident with the evidence which the two witnesses gave in court,” he said.

After ruling on the two applications, the court proceeded to hear the testimony of one of the State witnesses, Robert Mkandawire, Senior Investigations Officer at ACB.

In his testimony, Mkandawire narrated how he found money amount to about K124,500,000, $57,500, R22, 70 and other foreign currencies during a search on February 21 2017.

He told the court that Chaponda told him and other investigators that K95,500,000 of the money belonged to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, a claim which was later disputed by the party’s treasurer general Henry Mussa and official Nicholas Dausi.

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