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Defence protests in Mphwiyo case

The High Court in Lilongwe Tuesday adjourned the K2.4 billion Cashgate case after defence lawyers strongly protested the tendering of a letter from the Accountant General to the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) written in July 2013

The money laundering case involves former budget director Paul Mphwiyo, former Accountant General David Kandoje and some public officers and contractors.

In the letter addressed to the RBM Acting Director of Currency Management, the Accountant General was asking for continuous cheque pads which were subsequently issued on July 16 2013.

The protest ensued after the 18th State witness, Yvonne Jere, the Cheque Clearing Officer, started testifying and recognising documents that formed part of evidence in the case.

One of the defence lawyers, Andy Kaonga, pushed in an objection.

“She is not the author of the letter, she is not the one being addressed and she is not the one who acted on the letter and she is not supposed to tender that document as part of her evidence,” Kaonga said.

But Director of Public Prosecutions, Mary Kachale, said although RBM is not a government ministry or department, it is a public institution that is covered in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence rules which allow a public officer to tender public documents even without being custodians of the same.

“These documents can still be used by somebody who is in the office. If we miss her, we will have to add another witness,” Kachale said.

When the State introduced the notice showing that Jere would use the letter in the process of giving evidence, Kaonga faulted the wording in that notification.

The other part of the notification shows that the witness would tender while the other shows that the witness would refer to the letter.

At this point, Judge Esmie Chombo told the State to make a submission on which witness is supposed to tender a particular document and the reason behind the choice of such a particular witness.

Chombo said the State is supposed to serve the court with the submission before or on Wednesday so that the defence should use Thursday and Friday for their response.

The judge is expected to rule on the matter on Monday next week and it is on the same day that Jere will continue testifying in case.

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