The 11 people who were arrested by Police in Karonga for allegedly for attempting to smuggle maize to Zambia and Tanzania have denied the charge of attempting to export the grain after appearing before the court.
The suspects – who include drivers and some owners of the trucks who presented themselves to the police last month -were taken to court on Tuesday before Mzuzu chief resident magistrate Texious Masoamphambe to be formally charged.
They are answering charges of attempt to export restricted commodities.
But they all pleaded ‘not guilty’.
Police prosecutor, Senior Superintendent Christopher Katani told the court that his team has six witnesses and that they are ready to testify.
Lawyers for the suspects Victor Gondwe and Moses Chinkhuntha asked the court to grant bail to their clients, saying it is their constitutional right.
The lawyers argued that their suspects will abide to the bail conditions since their trucks and maize are in the hands of the police.
However, the two lawyers asked to the court to let the police release the trucks of maize saying “they will be affected if they keep staying without use.”
After hearing both sides, Masoamphambe adjourned the case to 26 April this year and granted bail to the suspects with a condition that they should report to the Officer in Charge of Karonga police on 25 April.
He did not say anything concern the release of trucks of maize as asked by the defence lawyers.
Among the suspects include the Indian national whose 15 trucks of maize are under police.
On Monday, Chief residents Masoamphambe also granted a bail to seven maize smuggler suspects.
The seven are Ezekiel Lwinga, 38, of Mkombanyama Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwabulambia, Chitipa; Alick Chikwasa, 37, of Mulinga Village, T/A Chadza, Lilongwe; Kelvin Kawenga, 36, and Christopher Alibaba, 32, both of Chinoko Village, T/A Chimutu, Lilongwe; Austine Mwalwayo, 37, of Mwafilaso Village, T/A Kyungu, Karonga; Gift Ngwira, 35, of Mlare, Kyungu, Karonga; and William Siwila, 32, of Ishalikira Village, T/A Mwabulambia, Chitipa.
The police believe there is a syndicate of Malawians and foreigners to externalise the country’s maize .Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :