Cashgate case: Court upholds defence objection

High Court Judge Fiona Mwale in Lilongwe on Thursday upheld contention of defence lawyers in which businesswoman Caroline Savala is accused of theft and money laundering an amount totalling K49 million.

Lawyer Wapona Kita representing Savala, Maxwell Namata and Luke Kasamba raised various preliminary objections last week.

Kita argued on Savala that there are duplicity of the charges against her which involved the same amount of K49 million she is accused of pocketing from the Ministry of Tourism which her company had not rendered any services to government.

Dazanjalimodzi: Accused
Dazanjalimodzi: Accused
Caroline Savala:  Accused
Caroline Savala: Accused

He argued that charges against Savala of theft and money laundering were arising from the same material facts.

In her determination, Justice Mwale upheld the objection  that one count was not properly drafted and ordered the State prosecutors led by Kamudoni Nyasulu to harmonise their charges to avoid duplicity.

But Justice Mwale saw no duplicity in the two counts of theft and money laundering.

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

The defence lawyer also argued on Namata and Kasamba, that the office of the Director of Public Prosecution had served the defence with a summary of the witness statements and not the actual statements as required.

The court adjourned Namata and Kasamba’s cases to March 12 to allow for the State to furnish the defence with statements of the four witnesses to be paraded to strengthen their case.

Kita said the preliminary objections were significant to ensuring a fair trial for defendants.

On  a related  development, Wednesday the High Court in Lilongwe ruled  against objections in a case of theft and money laundering involving K338 million in which lawyers for an accused person, Godfrey Dzanjalimodzi, wanted the court to merge the two counts.

Judge Ivy Kamanga said the two counts of theft and money laundering were different and could not be compared as lawyer for the defence, Chris Tukula, had argued.

In his submission in objecting to the charges against Dzanjalimodzi, Tukula said his client was being charged with theft of K338 million, which was also appearing on the same charge of money laundering.

He said the two charges were tantamount to charging Dzanjalimodzi twice for the same offence which was irregular.

The defence also objected to the introduction of a second person on the charge sheet, a Mr Chilembwe, who is alleged to have connived with Dzanjalimodzi in the theft, but the defence were not aware of this information before Wednesday morning.

But lawyer for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kamdoni Nyasulu said it was incorrect to say the charges were similar because they were based on the same facts, theft of K338 million, because the offence of theft took place and finished while money laundering took place when the money was then used to acquire property.

He said due to the nature of cases, there was a need to distinguish them from those of theft to receiving property, especially when it was the same person involved because receiving property would be part and parcel of theft.

Nyasulu also denied that an additional accused was added to the charge sheet, saying the individual was mentioned because the crime was committed as a ‘joint enterprise’.

The judge concurred with the State that she saw no duplicity in the two counts of theft and money laundering.

However, she asked the two sides to agree on the new introduction to the case before the case comes for plea taking on March 20.

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