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George Chaponda’s case at High Court

Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate, Simeon Mdeza, refused to recuse himself from the case involving former Agriculture minister, George Chaponda, and Rashid Tayub, one of the directors of Transglobe Exports Produce Limited.

But the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) served the court with a certificate of committal of the case to the High Court, a development which meant Mdeza was out of the case.

Lead prosecutor, Macmillan Chakhala, said the State planned for eventualities because they knew an application is either accepted or denied.

“It was an application and it would have passed or not. But we have a certificate of committal which we obtained from the Director of Public Prosecutions committing the case to the High Court,” Chakhala said.

On Tuesday, the ACB asked Mdeza to recuse himself claiming they doubted the courts impartiality following the remarks the chief resident magistrate made in chambers Thursday last week.

In his ruling, Mdeza said the alleged statement he made was not worth the call for recusal.

“I do not believe that there is a real possibility of bias. I do not believe my conduct does portray bias. I refuse to recuse myself. If I were to recuse myself, I would do so because I do not want to be associated with delaying tactics the State has chosen to employ. I refuse to recuse myself,” Mdeza said.

However, the decision to commit the case to the High Court did not go well with defence lawyers who accused the State of playing delaying tactics and going behind them.

Lead defence counsel , Tamando Chokhotho, said they were not amused by what the State had done.

“The State is alleging that they are not pulling a fast one. I think they are pulling a fast one because if they were doing this in all honesty, they should have disclosed the fact that they obtained a certificate before hand. They are saying it was just an alternative plan, that actually shows the abuse of the court process; making an application and hoping that if it does not go through, then we will take another route that is a clear abuse of the court process and we are not amused at all,” he said.

Chakhala said the State will do everything in its jurisdiction to have a fair trial.

“We have always maintained that we are not delaying the matter. Yesterday [Tuesday] we brought our four witnesses; this was to show that we are serious. They should understand that we cannot sacrifice a case just because we want a speedy trial,” he said.

Chaponda is charged with giving false information to the ACB, possessing of foreign currency in Malawi and attempt to obtain an advantage.

Tayub is facing a charge of persuading a public officer to perform his functions corruptly.

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