The High Court has given the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and lawyers representing Thom Mpinganjira five days to make their submissions before it determines on whether the business mogul has a case to answer or not.
Judge Dorothy DeGabrielle made the order yesterday at the close of prosecution that saw ACB parading its final witnesses that included Justice Ivy Kamanga and Dan Mponda, the bureau’s director of investigations.
Mpinganjira is being accused of allegedly attempting to bribe five High Court judges who constituted the team that sat as Constitutional Court in the May 21 2019 presidential election nullification petition case.
When the case adjourned last Tuesday, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba told the court it was remaining with three witnesses to parade yesterday—Kamanga and two ACB investigators.
But upon resumption of the case yesterday, Matemba said the bureau had decided to trim down the number of witnesses from three to two because the ACB investigators’ testimonies were similar.
Judge Kamanga—now Justice of Appeal—was a member of the five-judge panel and the last prosecution witness.
In her testimony, Kamanga told the court the judges learnt about Mpinganjira’s alleged attempts to bribe them following an understanding they reached that any judge must share any conversation or issue he or she encounters in relation to the case.
“So, on October 10, 2019 during lunch hour, Justice [Healy] Potani, who was the in-charge of our panel, told us he had shocking news to tell us.
“That is when he broke the news that he had received a phone call from Mr Mpinganjira asking if he had received a parcel to pass on to us judges who were hearing the elections case,” explained Kamanga.
The judge further testified Judge Tembo also briefed his colleagues having lengthy discussions with Mpinganjira both through WhatsApp messages and phone calls which were eventually recorded.
She said listening to the audio clip between Judge Tembo and Mpinganjira, the substance was that the latter wanted to appreciate if a parcel with in excess of K100 million had reached Judge Potani.
The judge said in the conversation Tembo wanted to know the purpose of the said money and “Mr Mpinganjira said it was for purposes of the case.”
Kamanga further claimed in the talk Mpinganjira discussed all the judges hearing the case and only excluded her because “he was not sure if she was going to be persuaded.”
When one of Mpinganjira’s lawyers Fostino Maele asked Kamanga why it took three months before reporting the matter to ACB, Judge Kamanga stated they were weighing options because doing so, at the time, it would have devolved the country into chaos.
Explained Kamanga: “We were aware of the need to immediately report the issue to ACB but we were handling a matter of national interest and we agreed not to do so because of the atmosphere then.
On his part, Mponda told the court they had enough evidence Mpinganjira offered an unspecified amount of money to the judges to influence their judgement in favour of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its leader Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).