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Ralph Kasambara grills state witnesses

Former Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara, who is one of the accused persons in the matter in which three people are answering charges related to the shooting of former budget director, Paul Mphwiyo, yesterday took to task two state witnesses on evidence they uttered in court.

After what was expected to be the end of the trial, the state recently asked the court to bring some more witnesses relating to the whereabouts of MacDonald Kumwembe, another accused person, on the day Mphwiyo was shot.

First witness in the matter, Luciano Chiumbuzo, on Monday said he was in South Africa at or around the time the shooting incident occurred.

But Chiumbuzo, Tuesday had a torrid day, responding to questions from Kasambara.

“Did you use Mr. Kumwembe’s phone in 2013? Did you visit Mr. Kumwembe at Maula Prison?” Kasambara asked.

To both questions, Chiumbuzo said ‘No’.

In the case, Kumwembe, who is the first accused, is answering attempted murder charge. Kasambara and Manondo are answering the charge of conspiring to murder Mphwiyo.

Kumwembe earlier on told the court that at or around the time of the shooting, he was in Mozambique. He however said his phone was in Malawi and it was being used by Chiumbuzo.

Chiumbuzo was later quizzed on some contradictions he made on the first time he met Kumwembe after returning from Botswana in 2004 where he went in 1998.

The witness later had to justify the inconsistencies.

“If there are differences in the dates, it must be understood that I am talking about things which happened a long time ago. It’s very difficult to remember,” Chiumbuzo said.

In the course of Kasambara’s questioning, Judge Michael Mtambo, wondered why Kasambara based his questions on what happened in 2004, not 2013, the day the crime was committed.

But Kasambara defended the approach:

“My lord, this is a crucial witness that has been brought as a rebuttal witness. I need to go through the stages to appreciate sequence of events,” Kasambara

The second witness, Chiumbuzo, was also asked about Luciano’s whereabouts. He said the first witness was in South Africa.

When pressed where he got that information, Chiumbuzo said it was based on what Luciano told him. He insisted that it could not have been possible for him to come to Malawi and go back to South Africa without visiting the family members because there were a number of family issues he was supposed to attend to.

“If you were told that Luciano was in Malawi and roaming on his South African number what would you say?” Kasambara asked.

Chiumbuzo replied: “No, he cannot roam. We could have purchased a Malawian number.”

After the witness was discharged, Kasambara asked the court to allow the defence parade other witnesses to counter what the state’s new witnesses had said. Although Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mary Kachale, protested the application, Mtambo granted the defence leave to parade the witnesses.

Kasambara, however, said he may only parade Kumwembe to answer some questions based on what Chiumbuzo’s brother said. Kumwembe is expected to testify Wednesday.

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