A magistrate at Lunzu Court in Blantyre on Friday refused to recuse himself from a case in which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) parliamentary candidate for Blantyre City Centre, Kondi Msungama and UTM Party parliamentary candidate for Blantyre Bangwe, George Saonda, are answering theft charges and impersonation of a public officer.
The magistrate, Patrick Mwamele, disagreed with assertions lawyer for Msungama, Fostino Mayere, raised that the accused persons would not have a fair trial because the magistrate recently ordered Msungama’s arrest after he breached bail conditions.
Police arrested Msungama about two weeks ago after he breached bail conditions by not reporting to police once per fortnight, and he had to reapply for bail at the High Court in Blantyre which was granted.
The magistrate, on the application to have the matter transferred to another court, dismissed it on grounds that Msungama was rearrested on good and genuine grounds for his failure to abide by set conditions.
Mwamele agreed with the prosecution team comprised of Southern Region Police prosecutions officer Dickens Mwambazi and private practice lawyer Clement Mwala that the accused was rearrested by Chileka Police after the court was alerted that he breached bail conditions.
Msungama’s lawyer also argued that there was an order that the matter be referred to the High Court, but the prosecution shot that down, arguing there was no such an order, but the fact was that the High Court only asked for the case file.
The magistrate agreed with the prosecution that there was no such an order, arguing if there was one, the High Court would have specifically made it clear that it made that order.
But what the magistrate received, according to the proceedings, was just a letter from the High Court, asking for the file.
The magistrate dismissed that argument based on reasons given.
The prosecution was ready to parade three State witnesses, but owing to arguments that marred the beginning on the trial, the magistrate adjourned the case to May 30.
One of the police officers present at the court said in an interview after the court session that the apparent defence tactics to delay the matter have paid off as Msungama and Saonda would have their matter heard after the May 21 tripartite elections, meaning they will now have time to go on campaign trail without any disturbances including court appearances, as they are required to appear in court again on May 30.
Msungama and Saonda and another third accused person, Daniel Chikhaula, are answering charges of theft by false pretence and impersonating a public officer.
The State is alleging that the three swindled a Burundian businessman of over K6 million after they promised him they were going to process citizenships for him and members of his family.
The complainant is Emmanuel Gatera Alphonse, who claims the trio collected K6 350 000 from him.
Msungama is said to have impersonated an Immigration Officer with intent to swindle the businessperson according to court records.
Msungama was said to have been introduced to the complainant by Saonda at Immigration Headquarters in Blantyre as an intelligence officer.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :