The value of former president Peter Mutharika’s security aide Norman Chisale’s property, which was preserved by the government as he is facing the charge of money laundering, has risen to K3 billion from the initial K1.7 billion.
Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said this Monday when the High Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, heard Chisale’s application for the court to determine the constitutionality of Section 65(2) of the Financial Crimes Act, which is the basis of the preservation order.
Chisale also wants the court to rule on whether the Director of Public Prosecutions was within his mandate to commence civil proceedings when Section 99 of the Constitution says his mandate is on criminal matters only.
Jean Piriminta initially made the observations in court and the AG reaffirmed the new figures in a subsequent interview.
“Chisale’s salary was less than K500,000; as such, how can he acquire property worth over K3 billion? We are still evaluating the property and the value can come up to K5 billion. From the K500,000, there were living expenses, probably entertainment [allowances] too, but we saw that he was engaging in many charity works. Where is the K3 billion worth of property coming from?” Chakaka Nyirenda said.
Chisale’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe is questioning the constitutionality of Section 65(2) of the Financial Crimes Act, which provides for expert preservation orders, arguing that it violates human rights provisions enshrined in the Republican Constitution.
He cited provisions on the right to be heard, right to own property and right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
However, Chakaka Nyirenda said all the rights being cited were not absolute under the laws of Malawi and that, even if the State pursued criminal or civil routes, Chisale would still have a chance to be heard.
“The right to own property does not cover the right to own property acquired illegally. You cannot steal something and claim you have the right to own it. Either way, civil or criminal, the defendant can ask the court to vary the orders; of course, while giving reasons. As such, all those rights are taken care of,” he said.
On the mandate of DPP, Chakaka Nyirenda said the Financial Crimes Act expressly names the DPP as an office that can commence proceedings and this includes civil proceedings.
Gondwe, however, insists that Section 99 of the Constitution should be supreme and does not, in any way, mention civil proceedings as part of the DPP’s job.
“Let us look at the laws by the letter. The mandate of the DPP is spelt out in Section 99 of the Constitution and it’s all criminal,” he said.
Chisale also insists that granting such an order ex-partes violates human rights provisions enshrined in the Constitution.
He said, after issuing the preservation order, there should be a date for an inter-partes hearing as it happens in normal injunctions.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Lovemore Chikopa has reserved to a later date his ruling on the application by Paul Mphwiyo for a stay of the Money laundering proceedings— pending his appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal— on High Court Judge Ruth Chinangwa’s refusal to start hearing the case all over again.
Chinangwa took over the matter from Judge Esmie Chombo, who retired while the matter was in progress.
Chisale’s matter has also been adjourned to a later date for ruling.