By Tiyese Monjeza:
The Senior Resident Magistrate Court in Zomba has accepted DEC Construction Limited’s request to withdraw a case where 11 of its workers were answering charges for alleged theft of building materials at Zomba Stadium which is under construction.
The 11 were remanded for 22 days at Zomba Central Prison following their arrest on October 27 for allegedly stealing bags of cement, iron sheets and metal bars valued at K12.2 million.
Two of the accused, Steven Somanje and Martha Kamba, pleaded guilty to the charge of theft before Senior Resident Magistrate Lisah Chingoli and were awaiting sentencing.
The case took a new twist on Wednesday as the applicant, DEC, applied to the court for dropping of charges, saying the parties had reached an agreement to resolve the matter outside court.
This resulted in the release from remand of the 11.
In his submission, DEC lawyer Precious said since the arrest of the workers, construction works had stopped.
As such, Dzikawanda prayed to the court to release the accused so that they could resume working.
‘The suspects include a site foreman who has a good understanding of the project designs. We felt that replacing them with other workers would jeopardise construction work. The hiring of new workers would have also demanded finances. We are happy that the court has accepted our request,” he said.
Prosecutor Peter Piringu expressed discontent with development, saying public resources had already been wasted through the court proceedings.
“We would have loved to continue with the case since we reached a stage where two of the accused pleaded guilty to the charges. However, our hands remain tied since the complainant changed his tune to dismiss the case on grounds that are not convincing,” Piringu said.
Construction works at the 20,000-seater facility started in 2017 with Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development’s funding.
Once completed, the stadium is expected to host TNM Super League matches involving Zomba-based teams such as Red Lions.
Since closure of the match facility for construction works, Lions have been using Balaka Stadium as their home ground.