Court prolongs suspected COVID-19 looters' stay in custody

Suspecting comung out of court

The Magistrate court in Blantyre has reserved bail application ruling to Tuesday 27th April at 9am in the case involving individuals accused of having had a hand in the misappropriation of COVID-19 funds.

Chief Resident Magistrate Jean Kayira also endorsed an arrangement between State and defense where one of the accused Chisomo Kunyenje Sibanda, who is nursing a two-month old baby can operate from home.

Eight people appeared in court on Wednesday and were told why the State is keeping them locked up, citing further investigations.

The State through Assistant Superintendent Isaac Kadawayula of Blantyre Police told the court that the eight were brought to court not to take plea but just to be told why they are being kept in custody.

He prayed for 14 more days while they conclude their investigations.

This caused objections with defense lawyers object saying the court should not entertain arbitrary arrests.

They called the arrests lip service and hypocrisy.

The defense went on to argue the State application was vague and lacked meat pointing out the order requires allegations, investigations to establish evidence then arrests.

The eight accused Pudenciana Makalamba, Keith Chikonda, Flecther taonga Nyirenda, Stanley Jailosi Gavi, Patience Mughogho, Linda Mauluka, Ellard Namingona, Chisomo Kunyenje Sibanda in court said they had hears the charges which are abuse of office and fraud. 

Upon Kayira announcing that he would give his ruling on their bail application on Tuesday next week, the court, jam-packed with family members and sympathisers who came for the hearing, went into weeping and wailing.

Weeping at court

The State and defense all refused to take media questions.

In Lilongwe the court will give its ruling on bail today Thursday. 

Meanwhile the number of those arrested has gone up to 42.

Police on Wednesday arrested seven more government officials.

National Police Spokesperson James Kadadzera says the arrested include those from Zomba City, Mangochi Municipal Council, and Mchinji district council.

He added that the suspects include Charles Thombozi Chief Executive Officer for Zomba City Council.

According to Kadadzera the suspects will be answering charges of fraudulent false accounting among other charges.