Former president Peter Mutharika’s top bodyguard, Norman Chisale, has filed at the High Court a notice to challenge preservation order issued by Justice Mike Tembo last week allowing the State to seize property belonging to him, lawyer Chancy Gondwe has confirmed.
Included in the court order was an itemised list of assets belonging to Chisale and his close associates, including Chimwemwe Paulosi, Deborah Zimatha Chisale, Esnart Guga, Flony Guga, Jannet Fatch Kamanga, connected to the property at Title No. Blantyre Central 937 CBD, registered in her name and Christina Mvula.
The list of property includes 78 vehicles, most of them high-end, including Range Rovers, Land Cruisers, Mercedes Benzes, BMW X5s, Jeep Wranglers and a Hummer; at least two bank accounts registered in his name, containing 30-million kwacha ($38,500) and 87-million kwacha ($111,500) respectively; and 21 real properties including houses in suburbs and commercial office complexes in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Dedza and Ntcheu and also Zimatha Executive Lodge in Mangochi. Also seized is Namauya Investments Depot in Ntcheu.
In his notice to challenge the order, Chisale indicates that the basis of his argument relate to the application and interpretation of the Constitution and wants the court to refer it to the Chief Justice for certification as a constitutional matter.
“The property preservation orders granted by this court without notice [ex-parte] in terms of Section 65 (2) of the Financial Crimes Act are tantamount to an unconstitutional infringement of the right to fair hearing, the presumption of innocence [Section 42 (2) (i) (iii) of the Constitution] the right to property [Section 28 of the constitution] and the right to dignity [Section 19 of the Constitution],” reads in part the filed notice.
According to the notice, the evidence in the form of sworn statement by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Director of Public Prosecutions through assets forfeiture unit, Financial Intelligence Unit and Malawi Police Service Fiscal and Fraud Department : did not meet the threshold test” to be applied at the preservation state under Section 65 (20 of the Financial Crimes Act 2017 “ to make the court reasonably believe that the property concerned constitutes proceeds of an offence.”
The notice also argues that the claimant, the State, is not a legal person at law capable of instituting civil proceedings while the Director of Public Prosecutions lacks authority in civil proceedings as his constitutional mandate is in criminal matters as enshrined under Section 99 (2) (a) of the Constitution.
Chisale, who is answering a number of criminal charges including abuse of office over his alleged role in the importation of cement using the President’s duty-free status, is accused by State agencies of acquiring billions worth of assets illegally.
In an interview with the Daily Times newspaper last week, Chisale is quoted having said that most of the vehicles on the of 86 affected by the preservation order were imported by Mutharika and were distributed to chiefs, religious leaders and the president’s relatives, among other beneficiaries.
On his declaration forms of assets, Chisale does not provide a clear source of his income outside his work at State Residences.
In the forms, Chisale declared a Mercedes Benz with personalised registration NPC1 (initials standing for Norman Paulos Chisale) as “a gift from my friend”. He also declared a Toyota Landcruiser VX as “a gift from my friend in Dubai” and a BMW X5 as a gift from a Mr. Kadango in Lilongwe.
The list also includes a Mercedes Benz registration NPC2 pegged at K8 million, a house in Kanjedza Township in Blantyre valued at K30 million which he said was a “a loan from Mr L. Fazeh”.
Chisale also declared to have sold a plot in Area 49, Lilongwe to former Cabinet minister Ben Phiri at K12 million.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :