The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has changed its plans to jointly charge the three suspects in the Zambia maize import scam, among them former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda.
ACB deputy director general Reyneck Matemba had indicated that the prosecution intended to consolidate into one charge sheet as the cases of Chaponda, director of Transglobe Produce Limited Rashid Tayub and Grain Traders Association of Malawi chairperson Grace Mijiga Mhango, saying they were were related.
But Matemba confirmed they will no longer proceed with the plans to consolidate the charges or transfer the case to Lilongwe to avoid unnecessarily drag the case.
“We don’t want to delay the case [with preliminary objections],” said Matemba.
He said the prosecution which he leads will handle the case separately with Mhango being prosecuted in Lilongwe while Chaponda and Tayub will be in the dock in Blantyre.
The ACB has charged Mhango with forgery contrary to Section 351 of the Penal Code.
The offence carries a maximum three-year sentence, according to Section 356 of the Penal Code.
Reads Mhango’s charge sheet: “Grace Mijiga Mhango in or around July 2016 with intent to defraud or deceive forged a proforma invoice for Seven Seas Trading and Enterprise in such a manner as if to appear that the said invoice was issued by Seven Seas Trading and Enterprise which it was not.”
Chaponda and Tayub were charged with the offences of misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency without the lawful justification and influencing a public officer to misuse public office respectively and have since pleaded not guilty to all the offences.
Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Simeon Mdeza set September 14 as dates for hearing the case.
ACB plans to parade 22 witnesses to testify in the matter and they include three Cabinet ministers in connection with their role in the dubious procurement and importation of maize from Zambia in an attempt to fight off food shortage that had wrecked the country following a poor harvest..
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