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Members of Parliament corner Director of Public Prosecutions on dropped cases

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The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament on Tuesday took to task Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale over the discontinuation of five cases without notifying the committee in good time.

One of the cases in question is a 2007 one involving former clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola, who was accused of offering her company, Monick Trends, a contract to photocopy the Strategic Plan of Parliament.

A Cashgate case involving Leonard Kalonga in which he was a co-accused with Caroline Savala was discontinued after Kalonga pleaded guilty in a related case.

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The DPP also discontinued a case against Justina Nyirenda, Jimmy Mbuliro and Khumbo Banda who were co-accused persons in a case in which they were suspected to have conspired with Cornelius Kaphantengo and others to steal over K200 million public funds.

A case in which Kenneth Winesi was answering a murder charge was also dropped by the state.

The State also discontinued a case involving Jacqueline Chinele, a female juvenile, who was answering the charge of conduct likely to cause breach of peace, for uttering abusive words to a girl with albinism.

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After appearing before the committee to explain why the cases have been discontinued, Chairperson of the Committee, Maxwell Thyolera, said the Constitution provides that the office of the DPP should report to the committee within 10 days when a decision has been made to discontinue a case.

Thyolera cited Section 99 (3) of the Constitution, which requires the DPP to report to the committee any decision to discontinue a case.

“The Constitution requires that when the DPP has made a decision to discontinue a case she is supposed to notify the committee within 10 days. Now members are expressing concern that some cases were discontinued in 2016 while others were discontinued in February and March this year. We got these reports on August 1 2017 and, looking at the period, it is more than 10 days,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Mzimba South, Khumbo Kachali, said the committee was disappointed with the DPP’s disregard of laid down procedure and statutes.

“This is the second time she is bringing the discontinued cases after time elapsed. She brought the [the case in which] Kennedy Msonda [was dragged to court for making violent calls on homosexuals] late. It was the same with the case of Chief Kaomba on the issue of fertiliser,” he said.

However, the DPP denied responsibility in some of the discontinuations while defending her office on the Msonda case.

“I have never done a discontinuation of Chief Kaomba [case] and on the Kenneth Msonda it was not delayed. We filed the case within 10 days.”

She, however, apologised for reporting to Legal Affairs on the matter after the period required expired.

Kachale said it is true that three cases were reported late but said the other two were reported in time.

“I apologise for Leonard Kalonga, Jimmy Mbuliro and Jacqueline Chinele cases. I blame no one other than myself for the cases,” she said.

The committee then told DPP that they will discuss if the cases should still be discontinued or that her office reverses the decisions to discontinue some of the cases.

According to Kachale, the cases were discontinued on legal recommendations.

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