Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has added two of its customs officers as accused persons in a case where Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons (DWS) Limited is accused of evading K10.8 billion taxes.
Lawyers representing the public tax collector—Anthony Chungu and Beatrice Mwangwela—told the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court on Monday that the employees will answer charges alongside five senior officials of Mapeto DWS.
In an interview after the court adjourned, Mwangwela refused to disclose the identities of the MRA officers, saying they were still being interrogated.
She said: “We have two MRA officers who will also be answering charges in the same case. Since it is one case, we will add them as accused persons. All the arrangements need to be done as one case.”
But MRA sources said the two are customs officers Tsepiso Kaunda based at Lilongwe Port and George Mwaluka based at Chiponde Border Post in Mangochi. Before their deployment to their current duty stations, the two were working in Blantyre, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the five Mapeto DWS officials arrested at the weekend spent another night in custody on Monday after the court reserved to 3pm today its ruling on their bail application.
The five are Mapeto DWS director Faizal Gaffar Latif, managing director Mohammed Gaffar, financial controller Abdul Rashid Bakali, procurement manager Yaseen Muhammad and general manager Martin Mpata.
Appearing before Blantyre senior resident magistrate Akya Mwanyongo, lawyers for the five asked the court to release them on bail.
One of the defence lawyers, Jai Banda, said his clients were law-abiding citizens who will comply with the bail conditions and that Mapeto DWS is a big investment; hence, they cannot flee the country.
He also told the court that the arrest of the five senior officials, who were not physically present in court on Monday, has crippled operations at the company.
Banda said the accused persons’ continued detention would affect many Malawians working at the company, especially in relation to their May salary due this week.
But Chungu and Mwangwela objected to the application, saying it was premature.
Chungu told the court that the State had not completed questioning all the arrested suspects.
In an interview, Mwangwela, who is also MRA acting head of legal services, expressed optimism that the State would finish the questioning process by close of business on Monday.
MRA head of corporate affairs Steve Kapoloma is on record as having said the arrest of the five followed investigations the public tax collector carried out at the company for six weeks which established three cases of alleged tax evasion.