Airtel Malawi rebuffs Chikwemba on SMSs print-out

  • [highlight style=’pear-green’]  Money was Mponda’s reward, says police officer[/highlight]

One of the country’s mobile-service providers, Airtel Malawi has turned down request by the ruling People’s Party (PP) deputy administrative secretary, Joseph Chikwemba to have print-out of SMSs he exchanged with Malawi Voice editor, Justice Mponda.

Chikwemba through his lawyers, Chimwemwe Kalua and Jailos Chafunsa wanted to use the SMSs print-out as evidence in the case in which he is accusing Mponda of extortion but Airtel rebuffed them, citing lack of court Order.

Kalua told the Blantyre Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning that the mobile-service provider refused to release the SMSs print-out in absence of  court Order.

Chikwemba:  SMSs  print out plea rebuffed

Chikwemba: SMSs print out plea rebuffed

However, Senior Resident Magistrate, Viva Nyimba highlighted that, based on the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Code, it was impossible for the mobile-service provider to issue out the print-out unless there was an Oath.

“I could have given the Order but I fear it can be challenged in absence of an Oath,” said Nyimba.

The development means, Chikwemba’s lawyers will have to apply from the court for a ‘Sworn Affidavit’, which Funsani disclosed would be immediately before the case resumes on Wednesday next week  when Chikwemba is expected to testify.

Witnesses

During the hearing, the prosecution paraded Blantyre police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer, Sergeant Chikalipo as one of its two witnesses who disclosed the money involved in the case was initially Chikwemba’s reward to Mponda for ‘a certain job’ he had for him.

Sergeant Chikalipo said: “I was asked by my boss Superintendent P.J Nthavi to join him arrested a suspect following a complaint through Chikwemba that a certain journalist was extorting from him. I joined my boss and Chikwemba to witness incident of handing-over cash to Mponda”.

When asked by Mponda’s lawyer, Chancy Gondwe during cross-examination what the money was meant for, Sergeant Chikalipo said “I was informed that it was a reward for a certain job a certain journalist did for Chikwemba. It was more like a reward for that journalist”.

However, he failed to firmly confirm whether the transaction between Chikwemba and Mponda that had taken place close to Limbe Health Centre on November 1, 2013 was an of extortion or blackmail, and dismissed assertions that it was a set trap.

“Our arrest was based on the complaint and my witness of the whole transactions. I don’t think it was a trap, but rather one of several ways we use arresting a suspect. Whatever we did was witnessing the incident”.

Chikalipo who witnessed the alleged extortion transaction added: “Chikwemba and Mponda met at Limbe Health Centre entrance. With my colleagues I stood at a distance where we were waiting for them to finish conducting their business as they were discussing some things we couldn’t hear”.

“When we moved close to the two, I heard Mponda said ‘I have received the cash and will do the job as assigned’. That is when we moved in to arrest him and was formally charged”.

Chikalipo dismissed suggestions that Chikwemba was connected to President Joyce Banda’s dubbed royal family while telling the court he was right person to testify on behalf of his department after being quizzed by Gondwe on his testimony.

During the hearing it was noted that prior to the arrest, Chikwemba had called Mponda 12 times while he called only once.

The case has since been adjourned to February 5th, 2014 when Chikwemba is expected to testify against Mponda.

Mponda, on October 29th and November 1, 2013, is reported to have allegedly threatened Chikwemba to pay K500, 000 or will write publish several stories linking him (Chikwemba) and his political associates to massive theft of public funds.

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