High Court judge Dingiswayo Madise has thrown out Anti- Corruption Bureau’s (ACB) request to commit the case involving former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda and one of the directors of Transglobe Produce Exports Rashid Tayub to the High Court and has since transferred the case to Zomba Chief Resident Magistrate Court.
In November last year, ACB sought a certificate of committal from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to commit the case to the High Court after Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza refused to recuse from the case as ACB requested.
In his judgement, Madise faulted the DPP for issuing a certificate of committal, arguing it was unreasonable and granted without merit.
“Fair trial demands that reasons must be given but certificate of committal to the High Court is not within the spirit. Secondly, I do not think we can condemn all the magistrates who understand the law.
“But if the case is committed to the High Court, it will deny the applicants the two levels of appeal in the case of acquittal or conviction. Therefore, I transfer the case to Zomba Chief Resident Magistrate and trial should commence within 21 days,” he said.
Senior Assistant Chief State Advocate in the Ministry of Justice, Steven Kayuni, said they would explore some aspects of the ruling.
“I would say we have to go back to the office and explore some aspects of it, not the whole of it but some and see if, at all, we proceed that way. Initially, you observed the conduct of the matter at the Chief Resident Magistrate in Blantyre and the initial push has been to move the matter from the magistrate.
“The fact that the judge has ordered that the matter be moved to another Chief Resident Magistrate [means] we can say that, in one way or another, that is granting what the State wanted,” he said.
Lead defence counsel Tamando Chokhotho said they are satisfied with the ruling and are ready to commence trial in Zomba.
“The court has agreed with us that the issuance of the certificate by the DPP to transfer the matter to the High Court was unreasonable and unjustified. On the other hand, the court has considered all the facts in the case and, in the interest of justice, the matter has been moved to Chief Resident Magistrate in Zomba. We are happy with the decision,” he said.
Chaponda is being accused of giving false information to the ACB, possession of foreign currency in Malawi and attempt to obtain an advantage while Tayub is facing a charge of persuading a public officer to perform his functions corruptly.
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