Defence lawyers quiz Mphwiyo in midnight court: Demands Kumwembe’s passport

The defence lawyers on Wednesday night tried to poke holes in the highly emotional testimony of gun-shot survivor former Malawi Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo in his shooting case.

The High Court in Lilongwe Wednesday close to midnight moved to the residence of Mphwiyo in Area 43 the scene of his shooting.

The suspects, former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and private practice lawyer Ralph Kasambara, businesspersons Pika Manondo, Dauka Manondo, Robert Kadzuwa and Macdonald Kumwembe have pleaded not guilty to charges of allegedly conspiring and shooting Mphwiyo.

Mphwiyo demonstrating at his home; the scene where he was shot
Mphwiyo demonstrating at his home; the scene where he was shot

The defence lawyers started cross examining Mphwiyo before a locus in quo (court hearing taking place at the alleged scene of the crime.)

Lawyers John Gift Mwankwawa, Ralph Kasambara and Wapona Kita cantered most of their probing questions on how Mphwiyo identified some of the suspects during the night he was shot.

“It was a night with some visibility. It took two to three minutes to identify the people who were three to five meters from my car,” said Mphwiyo who earlier identified Kasambara and Pika Manondo as among those who attacked him.

When asked by Kasambara as to why his guard, Charles Singano, said he saw one person standing just next to the driver’s seat as the one who shot him, Mphwiyo responded: “He reported under oath what he saw and I am saying what I saw.”

Kasambara attacked Mphwiyo’s credibility and asked further if his guard takes alcohol as he does, Mphwiyo responded that he doesn’t know.

The guard was the first prosecution witness  and said he saw a man with his face shielded on the driver’s side of Mphwiyo’s vehicle then heard one gunshot and then two more as his boss crashed the gate to enter the partially opened gate.

In cross-examining Singano, Kasambara discredited his [the guard’s] statement to police in which he claimed he heard three shots fired, but told the court four shots were fired; a differing account of how he was injured on the night and the time Mphwiyo arrived at his home which he said was  11pm in court but at 00.02 hours in his statement.

On re-examination by senior State advocate Dziko Malunda, Singano admitted that he could not know the time because he had no wristwatch.

During the midnight hearing on Wednesday, lawyer Kita informed the court that he has written the state to provide a passport for the first accused, Macdonald Kumwembe because it shows that he was not in the country the day the incident took place.

Mphwiyo, whose shooting unravelled a racket of theft and money laundering of public resources, amounting to K13 billion according to the forensic audit report, had also identified Kumwembe as the one who shot him.

Judge Michael Ntambo has adjourned the case to  Thursday for further cross examination.

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