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State wants Mapeto case to continue

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Steve Kayuni

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni has asked the High Court to vacate its earlier order staying proceedings in the tax evasion case involving Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons executives.

Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Jean Kayira is presiding over the case.

High Court Judge Vikochi Chima ordered Kayira to stop hearing the Mapeto case until the High Court reviews her grounds for rejecting the defence’s application for an adjournment of the case.

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The application from the DPP, which The Daily Times has seen, indicates that the order staying the proceedings was not supposed to be made and must be vacated.

“The application [by the defence for the High Court to stay the proceedings before the Chief Resident Magistrate Court] was incompetent and should not have been received or acted upon by the High Court.

“The application was incompetent and the order made pursuant to the application should not have been made. This is both on the merits and on the legal requirements for judicial review,” the application reads.

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Defence lawyer John Gift Mwakhwawa declined to comment on the application but confirmed that it was served on him.

“I can confirm that I have received the application,” he said.

The defence, led by Mwakhwawa, asked for a month-long adjournment because the State had, by a month, delayed to submit full disclosures and that Mwakhwawa had just replaced Jai Banda in leading the defence.

The State objected to the application, with Kayira dismissing it and ordering that hearing continues.

Mwakhwawa, however, rose to inform the court of the order when the State’s first witness Deborah Hauya was on the stand giving evidence.

After looking at the order, which was served on her and the State right in the courtroom, Kayira said she could not continue hearing from the witness, resulting in the case being adjourned indefinitely.

“Looking at the order, I can no longer continue hearing the witness until the review is done. As such, you are temporarily dismissed,” she said.

Addressing the Chief Resident Magistrate Court on the need for the adjournment on September 20, Mwakhwawa said he needed time to look at all the disclosures before he could competently represent his clients.

“I would have asked for a six-month adjournment but, at the bare minimum, may we [please be allowed to] have one month which the State robbed us by serving us with the disclosures late. They are voluminous disclosures extending to over 2,000 pages.

“If you deny us the injunction your honour, will I be ethically and professionally right to stand here and represent my clients when I know that I am not prepared?” he said.

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