It was in Court last month and was adjourned to 2 to 4 September. Please take note that when a case is in court, it is outside the control of the Bureau
By Watipaso Mzungu
Taxpaying Malawians may have to hold their breath a little longer if they wanted to know the truth in the case in which former Minister of Transport and Public Works Charles Mchacha is being accused of illegally acquiring land in Kanjedza Forest Reserve in Blantyre.
Despite the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arresting Mchacha in November 2020 over allegations that he used short-cuts to acquire land at the said forest, the Bureau has not made any progress in prosecuting the case.
ACB arrested Mchacha, who is also member of Parliament for Thyolo West Constituency, and Kumwembe on 29th and 30th November, 2020, respectively.
The then Senior Resident Magistrate Shyreen Chirwa committed the case to the High Court of Malawi albeit an objection from the defence lawyer!Chancy Gondwe. Since then, the dutifully taxpaying Malawians have not heard anything about the progress ACB is making on the case.
But the ACB Principal Public Relations officer!Egrita Ndala assured Nyasa Times on Tuesday that “the case in the Republic versus Charles Mchacha is in Court.”
“It was in Court last month and was adjourned to 2 to 4 September. Please take note that when a case is in court, it is outside the control of the Bureau. There are three parties involved. These are the Court, the prosecution and the defense. Any of these three has a bearing on the progress of the case,” said Ndala.
Before being formally charged, lawyer for Mchacha, Gondwe opposed the idea of committing the case to the High Court before some legal processes were completed in the lower court.
ACB publicist Ndala said on 12th February, 2020, ACB received a complaint alleging that the Department of Lands leased Plot Number LW 1366 (Kanjedza Forest) belonging to the Department of Forestry to Charles Mchacha without following proper procedures.
ACB instituted investigations into the complaint and established that Mchacha induced public officers to perform their functions corruptly in relation to the grant of the lease.
He was subsequently charged with the offence of inducing a public officer to perform functions corruptly contrary to Section 25A (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
On the other hand, Kumwembe was charged with the offence of giving false information to the ACB and neglect of official duty contrary to Section 14 (1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Section 121 of the Penal Code, respectively.
The two were taken to the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court where they were released on bail after satisfying the following bail conditions:
• Produced a cash bond of MK500, 000.00 each
• Produced one surety, each bonded at MK500, 000.00 not cash.
• Surrendered travel documents to Court.
• Ordered to report at ACB offices once every fortnight on Fridays.
• Ordered not to interfere with state witnesses.