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Court summons Hellen Buluma in fuel importation case

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Martha Chizuma

High Court Judge Patrick Chirwa, sitting as Chief Resident Magistrate, has subpoenaed National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) acting Chief Executive Officer Helen Buluma to continue her testimony in the fuel importation case involving former minister of Energy Newton Kambala, Alliance for Democracy president Enoch Chihana and President Lazarus Chakwera’s now-fired advisor Chris Chaima Banda.

Buluma who is a key witness in the case in which Kambala, Chihana and Chaima Banda are being accused of attempting to influence a public officer in the procurement of fuel.

She has been failing to continue with her testimony in cross-examination citing sickness.

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But in the summons dated November 3, 2022, that we have seen, Chirwa has set January 17 to 20, 2023 for Buluma to continue with her testimony.

“Whereas a complaint has been made that the above accused person has committed offences under the Corrupt Practices Act. You are hereby summoned to attend court before the Chief Resident Magistrate to testify what you know concerning the said complaint on the 17 to 20 January 2023 at 9 o’clock in the forenoon from day to day until the trial be concluded and herein fail not,” reads the summons.

Along the way in the trial, the defence wrote Chirwa suggesting that Buluma was faking sickness to avoid being cross-examined, a thing which Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General Martha Chizuma disputed.

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Chizuma said such insinuations by the defence were unfair and would tarnish Buluma’s image before the judge ahead of the cross examination.

Chizuma further “clarified” that the bureau sought the adjournments before the court dates to avoid inconveniencing the presiding magistrate, who is now operating from Zomba as a High Court Judge.

Kambala, Chihana and Chaima Banda were arrested in August last year for allegedly attempting to influence Buluma to award contracts to certain firms. They are currently on court bail.

Chakwera later fired Kambala and Chaima Banda as Energy Minister and Chief Adviser on Strategy respectively.

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