High Court in Lilongwe has granted the wish of the state to adjourn the case involving former ministry of tourism official, Leonard Kalonga to a fixed date to allow the state apply Newton law in the case and asked the prosecution to file their submission opposing mitigation factors.
State top prosecutor Mary Kachale on Monday had asked the court to adjourn the case to allow the state respond to one of mitigations factors which the defence submitted to the court alleging that the convict was ready to plead guilty to all charges relating to plunder of government money fondly known as Cashgate but was being stopped by Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials.
Kachale disputed the allegations and asked the court to adjourn the sentence submissions to allow the state to respond and apply Newton law which allows the court to hear witness even though the convict has already pleaded guilty to the charges.
Kalonga was convicted on his own plea of guilty late last month for stealing K3.7 billion ($6.7 million) in the ongoing Cashgate trials.
Presiding Judge Fiona Mwale agreed to what the defence lawyer Manuel Theu said in earlier court appearance that the court made an order never to adjourn the matter again but considering matters that were presented before her by the State, for interest of justice and to have a fair trial to the convict, there is indeed the need to adjourn the case and apply Newton law in the case.
According to Justice Mwale, the defence took by the surprise and it is proper to allow the state bring witness in the court as such she has granted an order of adjournment of the case.
But Mwale has given conditions strictly saying she shall never allow any other adjournment of the case once it resumes.
Justice Mwale has ruled that the state must file a written notice of issues they are disputing in the mitigation factor of the defence which they would like to dispute and bring witness within two days.
She has also asked the state to file sworn affidavits of all witnesses it want to bring to the court with seven days and that the defence has to write the court if they would like to cross examine the witnesses in court within 14 days from the day of an order.
Mwale has also ruled that if the state fails to get any witness deemed necessary to the case or any witness who will be reluctant to adhere to their call must apply for an order to call that witness to come to court to testify or release the said evidence.
In his affidavit, Kalonga told the court how he, together with other Cashgate suspects, namely former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo, defrauded government billions of kwacha.
Kalonga further said on Mphwiyo’s instructions, he recruited about 14 construction companies, including Faith Construction whose owner, Angella Katengeza, is also answering a case in court.
Kalonga also told the court that the six buses from Automotive Products Limited were bought by Mphwiyo and that he only facilitated the purchase by delivering a K520 million ($913 884) cheque to a Limbikani Gumbo at Area 18 Filling Station.
In 2013, the shooting of Mphwiyo led to revelations of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered an audit which British forensic auditor, Baker Tilly, undertook between April and September 2013 and established that about K24 billion ($42.3 million) was siphoned from public coffers through dubious payments, inflated invoices and goods or services never rendered.
In May 2015, a financial analysis report by audit and business advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also established that about K577 billion ($1 billion) in public funds could not be reconciled between 2009 and December 31 2014.
The case has been adjourned to Monday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :