Former president Peter Mutharika’s head of security Norman Chisale has spent a night in police custody following his arrest yesterday in relation to the importation of K5 billion worth of cement duty free using Mutharika’s Taxpayer Identification Number.
During his time as president, Mutharika was entitled to importing goods for personal use duty free, but eyebrows were raised when information emerged that 1.2 million 50-kilogramme bags of cement had been imported for such purposes.
Former Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Deputy Commissioner-General Roza Mbilizi was the first to be arrested in relation to the cement deals which have also had businessperson Mahmed Chunara hooked into the transactions.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed in an interview Tuesday evening that Chisale was in the hands of the law enforcers as they continue probing the matter.
Kadadzera also disclosed that the police had interrogated a number of people in connection with the cement transaction and that more interrogations may continue as the cops carry out their investigations.
“I can confirm that we have arrested the former president’s [personal] bodyguard and we will be updating the public on any development regarding the matter,” Kadadzera had said earlier yesterday.
Chisale had reportedly been summoned by the police on Monday before he presented himself before Area 30 where the police recorded a statement from him.
Elsewhere, Chunara is quoted by Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Times as having confirmed being invited to National Police Headquarters for questioning.
Our sources at the police told us that among others Chunara had implicated a former State House senior official in the matter.
According to the source, Chunara claimed that the imports were initiated by the State House official and that all the border clearances were done by the said official.
The police source added that Chunara claimed that there was documented evidence that the cement was collected by the State House official and that the documents have been surrendered to the authorities.
Mutharika is said to have imported 1.2 million bags of cement duty-free in three batches.
The consignment is an equivalent of 2,000 thirty-tonner articulated trucks carrying a maximum of 600 cement bags each.
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 and was signed by Malawi Revenue Authority Deputy Commissioner, Technical – Customs and Excise, Abigail Kawamba