Magistrate faults ACB tactics, acquits Malawi police officer on graft charges

A Mzuzu First Grade Magistrate has queried the way Malawi’s graft busting body, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) behaved in the arrest of a Mzuzu based Cop who allegedly solicited MK3,000 from a motor cyclist saying its officials acted unprofessionally in obtaining evidence.

Magistrate Cuthbert Phiri, who is known for doling out hard hitting sentences, has since acquitted Richard Nangwiri of the two counts he was facing.

This is not the first time that ACB officials have goofed on evidence gathering hence losing cases on technicalities.

Earlier this year, the same Court acquitted a senior Accounts Assistant working for the Immigration department in Mzuzu of three counts bordering on corruption after the ACB failed to prove that the Officer corruptly solicited MK3500.justice

ACB failed to parade its principal witness in Court despite wasting tax payer’s money by buying a return air ticket to South Africa and booking accommodation.

In this case ACB charged Nangwiri with soliciting contrary to section 24 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and abuse of Office contrary to section 25B of the same Act.

He denied both charges.

Court records show that on October 20th, 2011, Nangwiri, a general duties Cop, met Blessing Chipeta on the road along Taifa Market where he flagged him and demanded a C.O.F and licence.

Nangwiri then demanded MK8,000 as an inducement to release the motorcycle which he had confiscated. But after negotiations the figure dropped to MK3,000.

However, Chipeta tipped ACB officials and when he was giving Nangwiri money at the agreed rendezvous, ACB officials pounced on Nangwiri, who then dropped the MK3,000 on the ground.

In his submission for no case to answer filed through his lawyer Chimwemwe Chithope Mwale of Legal Aid, Nangwiri argued that section 14 (3) of the Police Act provides for the ‘general duties of the police officers’

“It shall be the duty of every Police officer… to detect and bring offenders to justice… to apprehend all persons whom he/she is legally authorised to apprehend… whose apprehension sufficient grounds exists” reads part of the section.

Mwale blamed ACB officials for acting in a hurry saying they could have waited and established whether the Nangwiri personally benefited for the money or not.

“They never waited to find out it a receipt would have been issued that day or the others to come. We also express our dissatisfaction with the way ACB handled the matter.

“We believe if they took a sober attitude to find out why the motorcycle was detained at the police… then these proceeding would have been unnecessary. It was clear in cross examination that ACB hastily acted without being aware that that Blessing had committed road traffic offence by riding a motor cycle with no valid documents,” he said.

Magistrate Phiri agreed with the defence saying by waylaying the Nangwiri without exhausting all investigations, the ACB acted unprofessionally.

“I find that ACB officials rushed in dealing with Nangwiri who merely receive MK3, 000. A lot more should have been done,” Phiri said.

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