Covid-gate: 8 suspects out on bail in BT, magistrate recuses herself

Suspects coming out of court

Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate (CRM) Jean Kayira has on Tuesday recused herself from handling the case in which eight immigration officers are accused of having had a hand in the abuse of COVID-19 funds.

CRM Kayira's reason for recusal is conflict of interest as one of the suspects, Linda Mauluka Minjale was her classmate at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi.

The court  has since been assigned to  Senior Resident Magistrate Akya Mwanyongo.

On the bail ruling, Kayira granted it to the eight who were arrested last week, on conditions they pay bail bond of K200,000 cash each, report to regional police office every Friday and that they should not interfere with state witnesses. 

The eight have also been ordered to seek permission when leaving Blantyre, provide the court with national identification, surrender travel documents and to seek the court's  permission when leaving Malawi.

In a related development, Malawi Police Services has picked up three more suspects bringing the total number of the arrested to 64.

The new arrests are of Elizabeth Mbeye, nee Sofasi, Senior Procurement Officer, Blantyre District Council; Henderson Sofasi, Brites Trading, Blantyre and Robert Mdoka, Niya Trading, Limbe.

The suspects will answer the following charges: Conspiracy to commit a felony, Making a false document and Contravening public procurement and disposal of assets Act.

James Kadadzera, MPS spokesperson said more arrests are pending.