Judge Chifundo Kachale will continue to preside the case in the Lilongwe Magistrate Court the trial of former ministers of Friday Jumbe (Finance) and Phillip Bwanali (Sports Culture), who were implicated in the theft of K11 million from the Ministry of Sports in 2004 after the High Court dismissed an application by two former ministers to have Kachale removed as presiding magistrate.
High Court judge Kachale is presiding as chief resident magistrate because he originally handled the case in that capacity.
Jumbe and Bwanali launched a legal challenge through lawyer Manuel Theu that as a judge Kachale had no jurisdiction to handle the case because it was a lower court matter.
Theu also questioned the marital status of Kachale who is married to Director of Public Prosecutions Mary Kachale arguing that she is also prosecuting the case.
But Kachale trashed the challenge arguing Section 5 (a) of the Courts Act gives him the power to preside over the case and that the chief resident magistrate herself requested him to continue with the case upon handing over the case files to her office.
Kachale ruled that there “no legitimate justification on impartiality of the case.”
He said: “ This case was not revived after my wife was appointed DPP, the record will show for itself. This case was revived in November 2013 long before my wife was appointed DPP in July 2014.”
Kachale also explained that the case is being prosecuted on behalf of office of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) as outsourced the prosecution of the case to G.D Liwimbi and Partners who have put lawyer Gabriel Chembezi on the case and not office Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as argued by the defence.
The court has set April 23 and 24 this year as dates for commencement of the trial.
The case has resumed seven years after the two former ministers and chairperson of the Sports and Culture Trust Fund, Vincent Mpaluko, were found with a case to answer on charges ranging from theft by a public servant, misuse of office and gross negligence by a public officer to obtaining money by false pretence.