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Court rebuffs Attorney General

K53 billion immigration saga

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Chikosa Silungwe

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe has dismissed an application by Attorney General (AG) Chikosa Silungwe for the court to recommence proceedings in the K53 billion Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services case where two firms have dragged the AG to court.

Two companies owned by businessman Abdul Karim Batatawala— Africa Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company— dragged the AG to court on behalf of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, after they signed a K9 billion deal with to supply uniforms to the department.

However, the department failed to pay the agreed amount, citing the firm’s delays in supplying the uniforms and other accessories which resulted in the companies demanding K53 billion.

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The AG asked the court to recommence proceedings so that former chief immigration officer Elvis Thodi, other immigration officers as well as officers from Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority— who were added as third party— could get a chance to hear the claimants’ testimony.

By the time these people were being added to the case, the claimants had already concluded their case and the defence had started its defence.

In his latest ruling, Judge Kenani Manda said the AG’s suggestion was untenable because the case was at an advanced stage.

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“This matter is at such an advanced stage for me to recommence the trial; so, the suggestion being made by the Attorney General’s chambers is untenable. The above observation is made because third party proceedings are a separate legal action and the same is deemed to have been commenced on the date that it was filed.

“Following the observations above, it is the direction of this court that this action should be concluded by the defendant either calling additional witnesses and closing their case. Should the defendant be found liable, then they can proceed with the third-party action against the added parties,” the ruling reads.

Batatawala’s lawyers Nampota and Company objected to the application, describing it as abuse of the court process.

“Parties will have to go back to scheduling conference where they will have to indicate how many witnesses each is to call and within which period they will serve those statements,” the skeleton arguments read.

AG Chikosa Silungwe declined to comment on the matter, saying he is yet to see the ruling.

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