COVID-gate suspects denied bail in Lilongwe

Lilongwe Magistrates Court

The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has denied bail to six people who were arrested in connection to the suspected abuse and mismanagement of COVID-19 funds.

They include Director of Administration in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Rashid Mtelera, Procurement officer Dominic Chimaliro and businessman Martin Mainja.

The trio is accused of conspiracy to defraud government through a dubious K97.1 million COVID-19 disinfection exercise at Capital Hill and Kamuzu Palace.

The others are former Deputy Director of Information Deogratius M'mana, Deputy Director of Administration Samuel Nankhuni and another officer from the Ministry a Mr. Chiwale.

Magistrate Chirwa noted that although bail is a Constitutional right for all people suspected of a crime, he has denied them bail in order to give the state nine days to conclude investigations into the matter.

A hospital worker captured with an oxygen cylinder in this file photo

He said upon expiry of nine days, the State may apply for further remand of the three in the event that it still hasn’t concluded its inquiries.

On Wednesday, police prosecutors had asked the court to remand the suspects for another 14 days to allow authorities to conclude investigations.

Khwima Mchizi lawyer representing one of the suspects explained that the court has agreed to give the State for more time for investigations.

“The only issue that the court has addressed is that instead of giving the state 14 days, it has given the state nine days”

The Auditor General’s report unearthed massive plunder of K6.2  billion resources in allowances and flouting of procedures leading to the arrest  of 46 people in relation with the misappropriation of the COVID-19 funds.