The State on Monday added two more suspects in the murder case of police officer Patrick Mvula, who was shot dead during an armed robbery of about K100 million ($183 486 million) at First Merchant Bank (FMB) on December 23 2014.
When the case came for hearing before High Court judge Dorothy NyaKaunda-Kamanga on Monday, the State also formally dropped from the charge sheet Peter Perekani Malunga, who died in June this year just a few weeks after taking plea.
The addition of the two suspects—Thomson Kamwendo (30) from Traditional Authority (T/A) Nsamala’s area in Balaka and Abel Chigwadala (35) from T/A Kalolo in Lilongwe —has increased the number of suspects on the charge sheet to five from the initial four including the late Malunga.
The other three who have been maintained on the charge sheet are Felix Matope (35) from Bvumbwe in Thyolo, KetsonMbewe (46) from T/A Kunthembwe in Blantyre and MasaukoGulayi (40) from T/A Kapeni’s area in Blantyre.
After the proposed amendments by the State made by senior State advocate Andrew Salamba were granted, the case proceeded with the the five, each answering a charge of murder contrary to Section 209 of the Penal Code, entering plea. They all denied the charge.
The judge said procedurally, after plea, the case is supposed to go into full trial depending on the State of preparedness of the defence and prosecution.
However, Salamba said the State made disclosures to the court and the defence except for a post-mortem report and a closed circuit television (CCTV) footage. He also said the State would parade 14 witnesses who were ready.
Lawyers representing the five —Michael Chipeta, Wanangwa Hara and Chimwemwe Kalua —said they would not file the list of their clients’ witnesses without certain disclosures from the State.
Hara, representing Mbewe, Gulayi and Kamwendo, who said they were not giving any witnesses, raised an issue about not knowing whether there will be trial for Gulayi and Mbewe as Salamba wrote a letter to the court on October 16 which read that “depending on the plea, availability of key evidence on the hearing date, if it is a plea of not guilty by all accused persons, the State shall discontinue the case against Ketson Mbewe and Masauko Gulayi”.
Responding to Hara’s query, Salamba said the key word in the statement is “on the hearing date” and the judge said Hara could have raised the issue with the State, not in court.
The court has ordered the State to furnish it and the defence with the missing declarations within 14 days and thereafter the defence will also have 14 days to respond.
The court will reconvene on December 7 2015 for mentioning, progress and bail applications consideration made by Chipeta for Chigwadala and Hara for Kamwendo.