The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court yesterday adjourned to the week starting July 18 2022 the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services procurement contracts case against businessperson Abdul Karim Batatawala and three others.
The adjournment was sought by the defence team following the absence of lawyer for the first accused, Batatawala.
Batatawala’s lawyer Alexious Nampota was reported to be attending to another case in the High Court of Malawi in Lilongwe Registry.
Prosecution, notably the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), did not object to request for the adjournment.
During the brief court proceedings yesterday, it transpired that the ACB and the defence lawyers had already agreed to the adjournment.
Senior resident magistrate Martin Chipofya then asked the defence and prosecution teams to agree on the dates when the case will resume.
Both parties agreed that continued hearing can proceed the week beginning July 18 2022.
Said Chipofya: “I have heard from both sides on the matter and it seems they both agreed to have the matter adjourned, so I am adjourning the matter to 18, 19, 20 and 21 July 2022 when hearing of the case will continue.”
In an interview later, ACB lawyer Michael Kalonga, who represented the bureau’s director general Martha Chizuma, said they had no basis to object to the adjournment.
“Lawyer for the first accused [Batatawala] is attending a High Court matter in Lilongwe and they [defence lawyers] came on Friday for the matter to be adjourned and we did not object,” he said.
However, defence lawyers were not available for comment.
In December, ACB arrested Batatawala, Immigration Department commissioner responsible for operations Fletcher Nyirenda, deputy director Limbani Chawinga and former chief immigration officer Elvis Thodi for suspected corrupt practices in the procurement of contracts for uniforms and other accessories at the Immigration Department.
The suspects are accused of conspiracy to defraud by inflating the market price of 500 lockers procured by the department from Africa Commercial Agency owned by Batatawala under contract number IM/01/85 dated March 22 2010 valued at K2 950 560 per unit price totalling K1 475 280 000.