The plot of former budget director in the Ministry of Finance Paul Mphwiyo’s shooting case continues to thicken with witnesses letting out more damaging information in the Mphwiyo shooting case, with second accused Pika Manondo challenging that the former’s statement submitted to court on Friday is doctored.
Mphwiyo was shot on the night of September 13, 2013 as he drove into his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe by unknown assailants. His shooting exposed a multimillion dollar fraud – dubbed cashgate – considered to be the worst in Malawi’s history.
On Friday, Manondo, second accused in the shooting case, told the High Court in Lilongwe that he was blackmailed by the then Joyce Banda government that he would be granted “freedom” unless he “cooperated with the state.”
Said Manondo: “I was assured of my freedom not to be arrested and charged even before my arrest while on a business trip in Kenya. Upon talking to Lutepo [who was also away] who told me that we were all wanted by the Malawi Police, I agreed to come back and hear what I was wanted for.”
According to Manondo, he spoke to Bophani – then deputy police chief – while in Kenya who “instructed me not to travel by air as I risked being arrested at airports as my name was on the Interpol wanted list.”
He explained that he used the road to Songwe Boarder where upon arrival he was accorded VIP treatment.
“When I arrived, I met Bophani and ten other police officers. Bophani actually confessed that he imagined I was someone so huge and not as simple as I was looking. We then drove to Lilongwe where despite not recording any statement I was held at Lingadzi Police Station,” said Manondo.
Nyasa Times understands that on the morning of November 8, 2013, Bophani and Maurice Makwinja (then Head of CID) came forth to convince Manondo to implicate Raphael Kasambara and that he was reassured that he would not be charged of any offence.
“I was shown an affidavit of Paul Mphwiyo by Bophani which they had recorded while he was in hospital in South Africa. He never mentioned any suspect but said they were relying on me to build a case against Kasambara,” said Manondo.
He added: “Bophani told me that [Osward] Lutepo and Stafford Mpoola were named in Cashgate but since they were cooperating with government they would not be charged and brought to court.”
According to Manondo, Detective Maurice Makwinja called Lutepo and gave the phone to Manondo to speak with Lutepo who was at Zomba Prison and because they couldn’t hear each other Makwinja took the phone and cut it and drove Manondo to Zomba the following day to meet Lutepo.
In the early hours of November 9, 2013, Manondo, Detective Makwinja, Lingadzi Police Officer Mr Khomera left for Zomba in a Corolla with a private registration number driven by a Mr Nyondo.
“We arrived in Zomba before 9: 00am which is the official time for visiting in prisons, and we waited at the Eastern Region Police Headquarters,” said Manondo.
He told the court that since his arrest on November 9, 2013 at Karonga boarder he has never been handcuffed and has always been accorded VIP treatment.
“Detective Makwinja then instructed that I would be introduced as a police officer from Lilongwe once we got to the Eastern Region Headquarters. When we arrived I was indeed introduced to the officers there as a constable from Lilongwe,” he explained.
Nyasa Times has learnt that Manondo met with Lutepo at Zomba Maximum Prison, and that he was told by Lutepo that the deal was for him to implicate Kasambara.
“I was told to rule out conscience because as I was told there was really no choice,” revealed Manondo. “They said that was the only way I could save myself from the hook.”
According to Manondo, Lutepo told him that he was working under instructions from Bophani to implicate Kasambara as the main architect of Cashgate and the shooting of Mphwiyo.
Because of there being no direct link between Manondo, Lutepo and Kasambara there was need for Manondo to come in but he refused.
After Manondo refused to cooperate they left for Lilongwe and on their way Bophani called him and told him to re-think decision as his brother [Dauka] was suffering in cell because of his stubbornness.
“If I cooperated and was able to implicate Kasambara, Bophani had the powers to direct for the immediate release of my brother,” said Manondo.
During the morning of November 10, 2013, Bophani found Manondo at Lingadzi Police Station where he was again asked whether or not he had changed his mind and ready to implicate Kasambara.
Manondo refused and immediately after Bophani left, five police officers including Detective Maurice Makwinja Regional CID officer for the Centre, Mr Chaima deputy CID officer centre, Mr Bonongwe, Head of Fiscal Police from Blantyre and other two junior officers from Lingadzi Police recorded his first statement and for the first time handcuffed him and drove him to Area 3 where Mr Makwinja told the officers there that “this is a dangerous criminal, watch him and if he dares move around shoot him.”
Manondo told the court that he was told point blank that because of his refusal to implicate Kasambara he would suffer and would never be released from prison as long as the People’s Party (PP) government remained in power.
He also told the court that while at Kasungu Prison after his remand by High Court, Lutepo paid him a visit to still convince him to implicate Kasambara and to also warn him on the payment he made in Manondo’s name through Ralph and Arnolds Associates.
Manondo was denied bail at High Court even though all his coleagues were, and it was Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Dr Jane Ansah who eventually granted him bail in May 2014.
But the State never appeared several times for surety verifications, giving out lame excuses. And, per Bophani’s words, Manondo was released on June 24, 2014 after change of governments following the May 2014 tripartite elections.
Doctored statement, case adjourned
The Lilongwe High Court has since adjourned the case to February 10, 2016
Justice Michael Mtambo has said the case will be heard from 10 – 12th February, with state witness Brown Mpinganjira set to testify on the day after he failed to testify this week as he was reportedly out of the country.
He was reportedly seen on television worshipping at Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) in South Africa.
Mpinganjira was summoned by the court to come and testify as witness after his name was mentioned several times by several witnesses for allegedly being sent by other fellow cabinet ministers to order Mphwiyo to issue payments or risk losing his life.
Before the adjournment on Friday the court finished hearing defence of second accused person Pika Manondo whose defence punched holes in Mphwiyo’s statement which former alleged was not original as the original – written in South Africa – was altered by Bophani to suit their goal which was to net Kasambara.
Manondo, who produced to the court the original statement by Mphwiyo recorded while in South Africa on October 14, 2013 that doesn’t indicate him mentioning that he saw his shooter.
Instead the statement only explains the pressure he was getting from the ministers to issue payments and also mentions a number which ended with a lot of sevens that looked familiar and belongs to a minister who asked for a meeting at around 7 pm.
Manondo also questioned why the state didn’t produce the first statement written by Mphwiyo himself in court but instead brought the altered version of the statement which had names of people he saw during the time of shooting.
“My lord suppose the statement is true, if I was the one issuing threats to him to issue payments for Mr Kasambara, then how could he be comfortable walking with me every weekend and sending me for his deals? The court might wish to know that five days before his shooting we were together in South Africa where he paid for my air tickets and accommodation. We went for clubbing at night in very expensive bars and he paid everything for him and me. Now, how could he be walking with me if I was issuing threats?” queried Manondo.
Manondo also told the court that in July they travelled to Blantyre in their cars fueled by Mphwiyo and they lodged at Ryalls Hotel which was also paid for by Mphwiyo.
“In this second statement Mr Mphwiyo says he saw one man in a hood, the one who shot and me and Mr Kasambara on the scene of the incident. My lord I don’t know why if we sent someone to kill him we could go with him, I was with Mphwiyo in South Africa. We were good friends and he knew me very well. How could I be on the scene of the incident ? Mr Kasambara a senior counsel for that matter who knows consequences of being found on crime scene, [do you think] he can boldly go together with the hired guy to the crime scene?
“I have been at Mphwiyo’s house, and at the gate there are cameras, in his house and almost in all the rooms including the bar and the swimming pool. He would open his laptop and see who was at the gate and issue instructions whether to let him in or not. I was a bachelor in 2013 and Mr. Mphwiyo used to come at my place in Area 47 for a chat, he could still open his laptop and still access pictures of what was happening and who was at his house. How foolish do you think I am to go to that house on a serious issue like killing when I know there are CCTV [cameras] taking our images?” wondered Manondo.
Manondo also told the court that in 2013 he was too close to Mphwiyo than Kasambara for three reasons: because of a political strategies they were working on, his involvement in buying of Mphwiyo houses for himself, his mother and mother in law and also because Mphwiyo was an outgoing personality who clubbed almost every weekend comparing to Kasambara who couldn’t club considering his ministerial position as well as the fact that there was no economic benefits he could get from Kasambara.
He also questioned how he could borrow Kasambara’s Mercedenz Benz when during that week and day in question he was using a VW Golf.
Manondo also said that he has never borrowed Kasambara’s car as claimed by the maid of Mr Kasambara who told the court earlier that Manondo came to borrow the car during the day Mphwiyo had been shot.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :