Chaponda corruption case transferred to Malawi High Court: Magistrate turns down recusal bid

Blantyre Magistrate Simeon Mdeza  who was asked to recuse himself from hearing the corruption-related case involving former minister of Agriculture George Chaponda and director of Transglobe Produce Limited, Rashid Tayub has rejected the application.

Chaponda and Tayub: Case committed to High Court

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has filed an application requesting the recusal of Mdeza following his remarks last Thursday during a meeting in the magistrate’s chambers.

The remarks according to the State, were deemed to be in favour of Transglobe.

According to the State, Mdeza questioned why the State was “victimising Transglobe who are good taxpayers”.

But in his ruling on Wednesday, Mdeza said: “ I do not believe that there is a real possibility of bias.”

He insisted that his conduct did not portray bias.

“I refuse to recuse myself,” he ruled.

Meanwhile, the State served the Blantyre Magistrate Court with a certificate of committal of the case to the High Court and that Mdeza will no longer preside over the trial.

Macmillan Chakhala, prosecuting, said they obtained  a certificate to transfer the matter to High Court from Director of Public Prosecution, Mary Kachale.

But lead defence counsel Tamando Chokhotho accused the State of “pulling the fast one” in their delaying tactics.

He said the prosecution were displaying “abuse of the court process” and that the defence are not amused.

“We are not ruling out a review of this certificate,” Chokhotho said.

He said the certificate of committal should have been obtained at the off set of the matter not by ambush.

But Chakhala said:“This is a very legal process.”

The court  has already heard testimonies of State witnesses, Foster Mulumbe, former Admarc chief executive officer and also Feckson Kantonga, the former director of operations for Admarc.

Chaponda, first accused in the case, and Tayub, who is second accused are answering to criminal charges relating to the suspicious procurement of maize from Zambia. Besides the two, the case also includes Grace Mijiga-Mhango, a businesswoman and chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi (GTPA).

 

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