The State yesterday paraded two witnesses in a case where former Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) director general Godfrey Itaye and two others are accused of abuse of office.
Itaye is being charged alongside Macra director of finance Ben Chitsonga and procurement specialist Joseph Ngalawa of authorising payment of K8.5 million public funds to Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons Limited (DWS) for the purchase of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cloth.
Initially, the State was expected to parade three witnesses, but the first witness, Mapeto DWS general manager Martin Mpata, did not complete his testimony as he was withdrawn from the witness stand by the State because a quotation he was using was not served on the defence team.
But in his testimony that lasted less than 20 minutes, Mpata told the court that in 2020 five police officers from Malawi Police Service National Headquarters in Lilongwe approached his office seeking information on transactions between his company and Macra.
He told the court that his office provided the requested information to the police officers, including a quotation that was prepared for Macra pertaining to purchase of 20 000 metres of special cloth for DPP.
But one of the defence lawyers Clement Mwala objected to the testimony, asking the court for an adjournment to a later date.
However, senior assistant chief State advocate Dzikondianthu Malunda objected to Mwala’s proposal and instead asked for a 10-minute adjournment to discuss with Mpata and the defence team on the way forward.
When the court reconvened, Malunda said Mpata had been withdrawn as witness for yesterday and would testify next time.
The next State witness was Macra head of human resources and administration Henry Macheso who told the court that on March 7 2019, Itaye called him on his mobile phone and instructed him to collect a package from Mapeto DWS.
He said that after collecting a bag full of DPP cloth materials, Itaye contacted him the following morning to take delivery of the package from his (Macheso’s) house at Ngumbe in Chileka, Blantyre.
In cross-examination, Mwala asked Macheso to explain why he was indicating that Itaye collected the package on March 7 2019 when, according to a car tracking record, his client was in Mangochi at the time.
In response, Macheso insisted that Itaye took delivery of the package in March 2019.
On her part, Macheso’s wife Chikondi, who was the second witness, said she vividly recalled that, Itaye came to their house to get the party cloths from her husband.
Like her husband, she said she could not remember the exact date, adding that it was one morning in March 2019.
When asked by Mwala how she knew the package contained the party material, Chikondi said the package was transparent enough such that the words ‘DPP’ were visible.
In cross-examination by Mwala, she said she only met Itaye once when he came to collect the package. Before meeting Itaye, she said she had only seen him on television, newspapers and Macra in-house magazine.
Blantyre chief resident magistrate Godfrey Balaka adjourned the matter to April 7 and 8 when the State is expected to parade four more witnesses.
Itaye was arrested on September 1 2020, barely days after Chitsonga and Ngalawa were picked by police in Blantyre.