Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba has quashed corruption charges against government officials in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
The officials include former chief secretary to the government Judge Lloyd Muhara, former Cabinet ministers Symon Vuwa Kaunda and Charles Mchacha as well as Defence Secretary Bright Kumwembe.
The magistrate has, however, directed that all the charges under the Corrupt Practices Act must start afresh while charges that fall under the Penal Code must be amended before proceeding with the case.
Nyimba further ruled that the Certificate for Summary Procedure Trial from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was not valid because the office was vacant.
The DPP has not yet been confirmed by the Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament.
He has further ruled that the matter should not be committed to the High Court and has directed the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) to restart the prosecution process and bring the corruption charges before the court again.
ACB Chief Legal and Prosecutions Officer Victor Chiwala said failure to get the consent from DPP has been a “technical hitch” but the bureau had applied for the consent.
“We made an application to the DPP’s office when the DPP was there but she has been seconded to another department so there is a vacuum as we speak,” Chiwala told journalists.
One of the defence lawyers Chimwemwe Sikwese, who is representing Kaunda, said the defence was happy with the ruling.
“The procedure that was taken by the ACB is irregular and invalid. The matter will not be transferred to the High Court,” Sikwese said.
The four accused were suspected to have played different roles in the alleged illegal purchase of land by Mchacha at Kanjedza in Blantyre.
The piece of land belongs to the Department of Forestry and the accused were suspected to have committed the crimes during the DPP regime when they held their respective positions.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.