Sep 26, 2017 Last Updated 1:25 PM, Sep 25, 2017

The public is pushing the police to finalise investigations into the cause of a fire that gutted the Ministry of Agriculture offices in Lilongwe five months ago.

The incident occurred at a time a presidential commission had just concluded an inquiry into the suspicious events surrounding the purchase of maize from Zambia by ADMARC.

The commission had recommended that the Minister of Agriculture then, George Chaponda, be probed further for suspected involvement in the scandal.

The wing of the building that housed offices of Chaponda and the principal Secretary, Erica Maganga, was the most affected in the inferno.

Speaking to Capital FM on the streets of Blantyre CBD one Mbayani resident stressed on the need for the case to be finalised because the public has been waiting for too long.

Another woman from Machinjiri demanded that the law enforcers conclude this case and also the other cases pilling up.

She added that the time has come for the police to be professional and not be influenced outside forces when executing their duties.

Though the police instituted an investigation to establish the cause of the fire, the law enforcers say they have not concluded the investigations.

A few weeks, National Police Spokesperson James Kadadzera said the case would take long to conclude as it is a complex one and needs thorough investigations before making a conclusion.

Chaponda is currently answering charges in court,  he was charged with two criminal counts of misusing public office and possession of foreign currency without the lawful justification.

Last week, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) lined up 22 witnesses to testify against Chaponda and two others in the case relating to the Zambian maize import transactions.

Chaponda and his alleged accomplices-Rashid Tayub, director of Transglobe Produce Export Limited and Grace Mijiga-Mhango, a businessperson and chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi (GTPA) were arrested by ACB last month for their alleged roles in the dubious purchase of maize from Zambia.


In the matter, there are nine lawyers with the State legal team led by Matemba assisted by ACB principal prosecution officers Macmillan Chakhala and Imran Saidi.

On the other side, Chaponda is being represented by private practice lawyers Tamando Chokotho, Madaliso Mmeta, Frank Mbeta and Jai Banda while Tayub has Jai Banda, Lusungu Gondwe and Madalo Banda.

Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate (CRM) Simeon Mdeza had set August 9, 10, 11 and 14 for trial, but it failed due to the Judiciary support staff strike that lasted for at least four weeks.

The case has since being adjourned to September 14 2017 after the defence counsel objected to the prosecution’s intentions to make an application to consolidate the case into one charge sheet.

The Blantyre Magistrate’s court has adjourned the hearing of a case involving former Agriculture Minister, George Chaponda, to the 14th of September.

Chaponda is suspected to have been involved in the ADMARC maize scandal, in which procurement procedures were flouted in the purchase of maize from Zambia.

He is accused along with two others, Rashid Tayub, who is the Director of Transglobe Export Produce Limited and Grace Mijiga Mhango, the President of the Grain Traders Association of Malawi.

The ACB requested today, that the three cases be consolidated, and that the trial be held in Lilongwe.

Speaking to Capital FM, Reyneck Matemba who is Deputy Director of the Anti Corruption Bureau said that, they thoroughly prepared for case.

“If you recall, the last time we were here for a hearing, we indicated before the court that we would be making an application to consolidate the case.

We also indicated that we would have transferred the case to the capital city Lilongwe because that is where the offence took place”.

However, Matemba points out that the strike by the judiciary support staff delayed them from making a consolidation.

He also revealed that the ACB was not notified that the hearing would begin on Tuesday, the date is said to have been set in their absence without proper consultation.

Chaponda’s lawyer Jai Banda said they were ready for trial whether they are served with disclosure or not.

“However before the prosecution is served with a consolidation we want disclosures which will give an outline of evidence.

We are happy that the court has put a date for the consolidation,” Matemba explained.

In his view, Banda believes that there is no need for the case to be moved to Lilongwe, Blantyre is just fine.

 

Embattled former Agriculture Minister George Chaponda finally made bail, after being nabbed in connection with the ADMARC Zambia Maize scandal.

Thousands of people, who flocked to the Blantyre Magistrates Court, withstood the sweltering heat, as they spent a good part of Thursday both within and outside the court to follow developments pertaining to Chaponda’s arrest.

Chaponda was arrested on Wednesday, alongside Rashid Tayub of Trans globe Produce and Export Limited, who is also suspected to have been involved in the ADMARC maize scandal.

Chaponda faces charges of corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency.

On the other hand, Tayub is to answer a charge of influencing a public officer to misuse his office.

Bail conditions will require Chaponda and Tayub to report to the ACB every fortnight, and also report to the ACB whenever they are about to leave Blantyre.

Apart from that they are also supposed to pay MK200 in cash as well as non cash amounting to MK2 million.

The case will return to court on the 9th, 11th as well as the 14th of next month.

This came after Chaponda’s lawyers were denied suspension of the warrant of arrest which the ACB obtained last week.

Officicals from Malawi’s graft busting body the Anti Corruption Bureau have confirmed the arrest of former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda.

Reyneck Matemba who is the Bureau’s Deputy  Director confirmed that Chaponda was ealier summoned by the ACB along with one of the Tayub brothers who run Transglobe Produce Export Limited, over their involvement in the Zambia maize saga.

According to a Facebook post on the official page of the Malawi Government, the suspects will be taken to Court after the Bureau has recorded caution statements from them.

The post adds that in December, 2016, the Anti-Corruption Bureau recorded a complaint alleging that procurement procedures were not followed in the procurement of maize from Zambia by ADMARC.

The ACB has been conducting investigation into the matter.

The Bureau sent its officers to Zambia in January where they together with the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia interviewed various people whom it felt had information relevant to the matter.

On 21st February, 2017, the Anti-Corruption Bureau conducted a search and seizure operation on various premises after it obtained search and seizure warrants from the court.

The ACB'sinvestigation had established that there were offences committed in the procurement of maize from Zambia.

On 14th July, 2017, the Bureau obtained a warrant of arrest for the suspects. On 19th July, 2017, the Anti-Corruption Bureau executed the warrants on the three.

Chaponda is likely to be charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency contrary to section, 25A(1), 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Regulation 25A(1) of the Exchange Control Regulations as read with Section 3 of the Exchange Control Act respectively.

 

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is neither confirming nor denying a report that they are set to arrest the former Minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda, over his alleged involvement in the ADMARC Maize Scandal.

This follows the completion of the investigations by the Bureau, in which ADMARC is accused of flouting procurement procedures when purchasing Maize from Zambia.

Chaponda and other officials of ADMARC were accused of playing a significant role the maize saga.

This was contained in the findings of both the Commission of Inquiry instituted by President Mutharika, and the joint parliamentary committee of Agriculture and Finance that investigated the matter.

Two ADMARC officials, the Chief Executive Officer Foster Mulumbe and Director of Operations Feckson Kamtonga, have been suspended over the scandal.

Chaponda has on several occasions attempted to clear his name, claiming he never had a hand in the mess.

But recently he was quoted in the media disclosing that he can get arrested as many have already gave him judgement on the matter.

Speaking to Capital FM, Senior Public Relations Officer of the ACB, Egrita Ndala, claims the Bureau does not reveal any information implying that they are intending to arrest the former minister.

She added that she is not even aware of the report emphasising that as the ACB such a complex issue would not be made public because that is not how the bureau operates.

In February this year, the ACB raided Chaponda’s home and office in Lilongwe.

This was after a recommendation by the commission of inquiry into Malawi’s maize imports from Zambia that he should be investigated.

The inquiry has discovered that Chaponda involvement in the matter raised numerous questions.

The Bureau seized cash in local and foreign currencies amounting to an accumulated figure of MK200 Million.

After raiding the former minister’s residence, the ACB also searched Mulumbe’s home where files and computers were seized.

Now four months since the incident, both the ACB and the police are maintaining that they are still investigating the matter and cannot make any arrests without completing their investigations. 

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