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Norman Chisale faces fraud charge

Also to answer money laundering allegation

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Mgeme Kalilani

The Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged former president Peter Mutharika’s personal bodyguard Norman Chisale with fraud and money laundering, offences which are contrary to Section 319 and 331 of the Penal Code, respectively.

Chisale was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the importation of 1.2 million bags of cement worth over K5 billion from Zambia and Zimbabwe in the name of Mutharika duty free.

The former president’s aide, who came to the court in handcuffs clad in a pair of soft jeans trousers, a T-shirt and a top, appeared rather irritated and could be seen dishing out instructions to police officers.

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Senior Resident Magistrate Violet Chipawo has since said she would deliver her ruling on Friday on whether to grant Chisale bail.

While Chisale was appearing in court, there was tension outside the courthouse as youths believed to be Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) operatives, clad in their respective parties’ regalia, chased journalists who were trying to take still and motion pictures of the once-powerful Mutharika’s aide.

While other reporters fled for dear life, the angry ‘cadets’ managed to beat Zodiak Broadcasting Station cameraman, David Chapita, and damaged his camera in the process.

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Among others, the youths were demanding the unconditional release of Chisale.

Ironically, this was happening in full view of police officers who were at the courthouse.

Police prosecutors, Mwabi Kalua and Charles Panyani informed the court the grounds of Chisale’s arrest.

Chisale’s lawyer, Chancy Gondwe, said they are looking forward to tomorrow when the court will decide on the bail application for his client.

“They brought him with holding charges for his incarceration as per the requirements of the law. We applied for his release and the court has since reserved its determination to Friday,” Gondwe said.

The 60,000 tonnes of cement allegedly imported by Chisale through Prestige Import and Export owner, Mahmed Shafee Ahmed Chunara, is equivalent to 2,000 thirty-tonner articulated trucks carrying a maximum of 600 cement bags each.

The consignment was imported into the country in three batches each weighing 20,000 tonnes.

Each consignment was valued at $2.240 million, bringing the total cost of the three consignments to $6.720 million (about K5.040 billion).

The first clearance was made on November 28, 2018 while the second clearance was given on July 1, 2019. The third clearance was issued on December 16, 2019. All the clearances were all signed by Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Deputy Commissioner, Technical – Customs and Excise, Abigail Kawamba.

Former State House Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, said last month that the cement was for Mutharika’s personal use.

“The goods were imported under the Presidents (Salaries and Benefits) Act chapter 2 sub-section 2 part 7 of the schedule. Under this law, the President is entitled to import goods for personal use duty-free,” Kalilani said that time.

Former MRA Deputy Commissioner Roza Mbilizi was also arrested in relation with the cement important deal but details about her case remain sketchy.

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