Cashgate: Court orders Police to hand over car to Savala

The High Court in Lilongwe has ordered Police and state prosecutors to hand over a Toyota Rav 4 motor vehicle that the Police had seized from Caroline Savala who is answering charges of theft and money laundering in relation to the cashgate scandal.

Savala is accused of siphoning about K87 million (US$208 133) of public money through alleged dubious contracts that never supplied anything to government.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Bruno Kalemba argued that the said motor vehicle was bought with stolen money from government but the judge Fiona Atupele Mwale rejected that.

Caroline Savala:  Get court order to collect her car but police defy

Caroline Savala: Get court order to collect her car but police defy

Again the judge rejected the DPP argument that the motor vehicle was used to commit the theft in that Savala “might” have driven in that car to deposit the stolen money into her bank account.

The judge found that argument laughable for two reasons, first the fact that the top prosecutor was saying that she might, meant that he was not sure, and hence failed to convince the court that was the situation.

In contrast, Savala through her lawyer, Raphael Kasambara, was emphatic that around August her car was undergoing repairs hence she could not have used it to deposit money in her bank account.

She also submitted to court that the warrant that the DPP had obtained from court was based on allegation that the car was purchased with proceeds from cashgate yet in court, the DPP changed the story contending that the same car was impounded because it was used to commit a crime.  The two, noted the judge, did not add up as one cannot in one breath say one thing and later rely on another thing.

Notwithstanding, the court ruling being hand delivered to DPP’s lawyer, Mr Chakuwawa the Police and DPP refused to comply with court order that prompted Kasambara SC to rush back to court to draft a formal court order with penal notice.

The court again issued the formal order and the same was served on DPP and Police. Savala went to police to collect her car and had to wait until when the police through MR G Chiwanda told her emphatically that they would not respect the Court order.

She was asked to check with the Police “some other day” and she left the police without her car.

In a related development, Justice Mwale has ordered the DPP to redraft the theft and money laundering charge; and was adamant that come March 21st, 2014 she will proceed to hear the case and not be boggled by the State failure to draft proper charges.

The judge made this remark in view of the past two failed hearings when Defence Counsel objected to the draft charges in that the theft charge offended the rule against duplicity; and the money laundering charge lacked specificity of material allegations.

Kalemba admitted recently the prosecution has lost control on plans to have fast-track trial of cashgate cases.

Various stakeholders, including donors, have pushed for speedy prosecutions within the framework of the action plan on cashgate.

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