Two defence lawyers in the corruption-related case involving former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda have discharged themselves.
Lawyer Madalitso Mneta has withdrawn from defending Chaponda following Frank Mbeta who also discharged himself from the case.
Jai Banda, another member of the defence legal team, said he also stopped representing Chaponda.
Tamando Chokhotho, who has been the lead counsel for Chaponda, notified the court yesterday when proceedings of the case resumed before Blantyre chief resident magistrate Simeon Mdeza.
“I wish to notify the court that counsels Mmeta and Banda have ceased representing the first accused so I am the sole counsel representing the first accused,” he told the court.
Mmeta was not present in the court.
Banda said he has dumped Chaponda on “conflict of interest” as he is also defending Rashid Tayub, the second accused, whois fighting for a separate trial
This leaves Chokhotho, Madalo Banda and Lusungu Gondwe on the defence team.
The former Cabinet minister alongside Tayub, a Transglobe Produce Limited director and Grace Mijiga-Mhango, chairperson of the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi (GTPA), were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on suspicion of corruption relating to procurement of government maize from Zambia.
Tayub’s lawyer asked the court to have his matter heard separately but the State opposed to the application.
Chaponda is answering three charges out of the four which include giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position and possession of foreign currency while Tayub is answering to the charge of persuading a public officer to misuse his position. They both pleaded not guilty.
He was fired from Cabinet on February 22 2017 following public pressure after the ACB instituted investigations on allegations of his involvement in the K26 billion maize import deal from Zambia, popularly known as maizegate.
Chaponda is currently vice-president for the South of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :