Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is yet to place charges on the country’s former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and his wife Thandi despite the two spending more than 48 hours in police custody following their arrest last week.
The anti-corruption is also yet to charge the newly appointed director of Office of Directorate of Public Assets Declaration Christopher Tukula.
On Monday the three spent one more night in police custody with the ACB also admitting that it has also not yet recorded any formal statements from the Mphwiyo and his wife.
According to the country’s laws suspects are supposed to be formally charged within 48 hours of their arrest or be released on bail unconditionally.
However, in an interview ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba contended that the ACB was still acting within the law as the 48 hours have not yet elapsed that is discounting Saturday and Sunday although a law expert argues that the time limit also counts weekend days.
“The three will be charged in due course and within the legally stipulated 48 hours. They have all not been formally charged. In the case of the Mphwiyo family, we have not taken their statements. We are hoping we will do all this tomorrow [Tuesday] as they will be applying for their bail,” said Matemba.
Mphwiyo, whose shooting at the gate of his house in the country’s capital Lilongwe on the night of September 13 2013 exposed the plunder of public resources, was arrested on Saturday for money laundering, theft and conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.
Lawyer Mandala Mambulasa in an interview said the 48-hour rule which provides that suspects should be charged and granted bail within that period as stipulated in the Constitution Section 42 (2)(b) does not rule out Saturdays and Sundays.
Mambulasa is also President of the Malawi Law Society.
“The law says as soon as it is reasonably possible, but not later than 48 hours after the arrest, or if the period of 48 hours expires outside ordinary court hours or on a day which is not a court day, the first court day after such expiry, suspects should be brought before an independent and impartial court of law and to be charged or to be informed of the reason for his or her further detention, failing which he or she shall be released,” he said.