Court refuses split of Maizegate corruption case: State’s bid for Mulumbe, Kantonga to re-testify quashed

Zomba Magistrate’s Court on Thursday denied the request by Rashid Tayub, director of Transglobe Produce Limited, to split the corruption case  in which also involves Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda.

Chaponda (R) and Tayub: A single trial will be held for Maizegate

In their arguments, Tayub’s lawyers said they believed it was in the best interest of their client and his businesses for the matter to be tried separately as that would necessitate the expedition of the case as Tayub had few witnesses as compared to Chaponda and if they were to be tried together proceedings would unnecessarily drag for him.

They argued that Tayub’s business was suffering because of the court proceedings which were dragging as banks were refusing to offer his company loans because of his alleged involvement in corruption.

However, State lead counsel Macmillan Chakhala objected the application for split trial, arguing they were of the view that the facts making the case between the accused persons were connected.

Chakhala argued that  there is a “nexus “ between the offence of attempt to obtain an advantage for Chaponda and that of persuading a public officer for Tayubs.

He said separating the case is not possible as the evidence “needs to be heard collectively.”

In his determination, Zomba chief resident magistrate (CRM) Paul Chiotcha said splitting  the trial would defeat the purpose of expediting trial.

He also said there is no evidence that Tayub’s business is being affected because of the trial.

Tayub’s lawyer Jai Banda said they will “abide by the rule of the court” though disappointed with the ruling, saying they weull just be sitting in court as most of the evidence from the witnesses concerns Chaponda only.

The court also quashed the prosecution bid to recall two State witnesses—former Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe and his former director of operations Feckson Kantonga—who had previously testified to reappear before the court and  re-testify in the matter dubbed as maizegate.

Chaponda is answering three charges of giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency while Tayub is answering to the charge of persuading a public officer to misuse his position, but they both denied the charges.

The matter was transferred to Zomba CRM after the High Court in Blantyre dismissed an application by the State to transfer the trial from Blantyre CRM court to the High Court.

The ex-minister and Tayub were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) last July on suspicion of corruption relating to procurement of the K26 billion maize from Zambia.n

 

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