Mahmed Chunara, Norman Chisale in custody


Police in Lilongwe Monday morning arrested businessman Mahmed Chunara for his alleged involvement in the importation of 1.2 million bags of cement from Zambia and Zimbabwe worth K5 billion using former president Peter Mutharika’s duty-free opportunity.

Our sources indicated Monday evening that Chunara was to spend his first night in custody as he had not yet been taken to court to be formally charged.

Elsewhere in Blantyre, Mutharika’s security aide Norman Chisale has been remanded for seven days at Chichiri Prison following an application by the State. Chisale is facing an attempted murder charge in relation to a shooting incident that allegedly took place in May this year.


He was also arrested and granted court bail in relation to the charge that Chunara has been arrested for.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said Chunara, who owns Prestige Import and Export, was being kept at Lingadzi Police Station.

“I can confirm that he is still in our custody. We are keeping him at Lingadzi Police. For now we will not say why we have arrested him to avoid jeopardising our investigations,” Kadadzera said.


He further said that the police were yet to formally charge the businessman.

But inside sources confided in us that Chunara had been arrested in connection with the cement saga. Last week police also questioned Chunara on the same deal.

It is alleged that the syndicate involved using Mutharika’s Taxpayer Identification Number and duty-free status as provided for in the President’s Salary and Benefits Act which allows duty-free importations of items for personal use.

The cement consignment was imported into the country in three batches each weighing 20,000 tonnes. Chunara’s company was allegedly used to import the cement.

In Chisale’s shooting case, within the seven days that he will be on remand, it is expected that a decision should be made on the matter being committed to the High Court.

Speaking after the remand order, Chisale’s lawyer, Chancy Gondwe, described the process as unfair, saying his client cannot be detained without trial and added that he would apply for bail.

“The State just brought the accused person for remand but without committing the suspect to the High Court so we had problems with that because they should have committed the accused person because you cannot be detained without trial and we will be making an application to the court to release the suspect on bail,” Gondwe said.

The lawyer had earlier told our sister paper Malawi News that the shooting victim had withdrawn the case. But other legal experts are of the view that since it is a criminal case, the withdrawal cannot kill it.

Chisale was re-arrested in Lilongwe immediately after his release on bail in a case he is answering in connection with the cement importation.

Meanwhile, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency (Csat) and Youth and Society (Yas) have hailed the corruption-related arrests, saying that is what Malawians expect from the government in its “decisive steps” of fighting graft and plunder of public resources.

Csat Executive Director Willy Kambwandira has since asked the government to break the silence on the 30-day amnesty and investigating and prosecuting agencies to keep the pace in fighting corruption and theft of public resources.

On his part, Yas Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka has said the arrests were long overdue.

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