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Norman Chisale’s property documents missing

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Reyneck Matemba

Having been moved by the Director of Public Prosecutions to provide a situational update on some of the cases already sanctioned for prosecution, the ACB alleges in its correspondence that some documents to do with property of Norman Chisale have gone missing at Lands, a development those at the ministry claim they are not aware of

Documents outlining the value of some property belonging to Norman Chisale, former security aide of former president Peter Mutharika, have apparently gone missing at the Department of Housing and Lands; thereby derailing a case he is answering on unexplained accumulation of wealth.

But Ministry of Lands officials have told Malawi News that they are not aware of the development.

Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Martha Chizuma has disclosed this in a letter to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steve Kayuni, who on June 8, 2022 asked the bureau to furnish his office with a progress update on some of the cases that he had granted consent for prosecution.

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The letter, which we have seen and carries a stamp of the DPP’s office acknowledging receipt, shows that one of the cases on the list is Chisale’s unexplained accumulation of wealth.

Chizuma in her June 22, 2022 letter to the DPP has said the criminal proceedings on the matter await finalisation of valuation of Chisale’s property, including the assets that are in Ntcheu District, whose notes cannot be traced.

She said the development prompted the bureau to apply for an access order in court in order to deploy a team of evaluators to re-valuate the property, but at the time she was writing the letter, the court had not yet decided on their application.

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“Whilst the initial valuations were done, some notes for Ntcheu properties were stolen from Lands; and the valuators have to go back to conduct an assessment of the properties.

“This needs an Access Order from the court. The bureau filed an application for an Access Order some weeks back but is yet to be granted by the bureau,” Chizuma’s letter reads in part.

But the Ministry of Lands, through its Principal Secretary Reyneck Matemba and spokesperson Enoch Chingoni, said they are blank about the missing documents.

“As a ministry, we are not aware of this issue, that’s what we can say, thank you,” Chingoni said in a WhatsApp message.

Asked if they have so far been granted the order, the ACB boss said yesterday that the matter is an inter-agency effort and then referred us to the Assets Recovery Unit at the Ministry of Justice, which she said led the efforts.

“The Asset Recovery Unit at Ministry of Justice should be the appropriate party to respond to this. As we mentioned this case is an inter-agency effort, but led by the unit,” she said.

Solicitor General Allison M’bang’ombe, who is also Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Justice, referred us to Kayuni when we contacted him.

Kayuni did not respond to the questionnaire which we sent, further to cutting the line when we called him a couple of times and later wrote that: “I am in a meeting.”

Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court Kondwani Banda said he needed specific details about the case in order to make proper follow ups.

But Chisale’s lawyer Chauncy Gondwe said they are not aware of the developments, adding they are ready to challenge the forfeiture proceedings that the state commenced before Justice Mike Tembo.

“I doubt if what they are asserting is true. The problem is that the state founded this whole case based on misinformation. They are busy litigating in the papers instead of preparing themselves for the court case. They ended up forgetting the court case as they were very busy litigating in the newspapers as they always do. Let’s meet in court and our client is ready to challenge the forfeiture proceedings,” Gondwe said.

Chisale has been in and out of court for over two years now answering various charges bordering on suspected fraud, money laundering, corruption and unexplained accumulation of wealth among others.

In February 2021, the High Court granted the state an order to seize Chisale’s K1.7 billion worth of assets, which later rose to K3 billion.

He unsuccessfully challenged the preservation order, as Justice Tembo said the DPP was within his mandate under the Financial Crimes Act when he commenced civil proceedings against Chisale by obtaining the said order.

Through his lawyer Gondwe, Chisale contended that section 99 of the constitution gives the DPP jurisdiction over criminal matters only.

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