The temporary freedom from a police cell that former president Peter Mutharika’s top bodyguard Norman Chisale secured through bail on Friday was dramatically dashed in court when he was re-arrested for another charge.
The drama happened at Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court where dozens of people flocked to hear Lilongwe chief resident magistrate Violet Chipawo making the bail ruling after Chisale was charged with fraud and money laundering on Wednesday following his arrest the day before.
Chisale heard in court on Wednesday that the State’s holding charges against him were that “during the years 2018 and 2019 in the City of Lilongwe, by deceit or other fraudulent means, imported 800 000 bags of cement without paying duty, thereby causing a pecuniary detriment of 5 billion Malawi Kwacha to the Government of Malawi.”
But on Friday Chisale’s smile lasted but a while as one of the State prosecutors rose to his feet and told the court that the Police would hold on to the suspect for another offence he committed in Blantyre.
Chisale, who looked shocked and was holding a Bible in his hand, kept shaking his head in utter disbelief.
His lawyer Chancy Gondwe told the court that the new charges as raised by the State were invalid.
Said Gondwe: “Your honour, the case that is being referred to is about some woman in Blantyre who a few days ago withdrew the case at Soche Police. The State just wants to punish my client.”
But the magistrate refused to be drawn in the exchange of words, saying the matter was not before her court; hence, asked Gondwe to take it up with the State.
Tension ensued in the courtroom after the magistrate had walked out as Chisale openly challenged being taken back into custody.
Said Chisale: “This is too much, I am also a person and I feel pain. Why are you doing this? I have worked for this country for 14 years serving two presidents, and is this how you repay me?”
Police officers who were present in court looked helpless and did not answer back or try to walk him out. The suspect could be seen pacing around the room while making different phone calls.
Democratic Progressive party (DPP) secretary general Grezelder Jeffery who was one of the surities of bail conditions for Chisale could also be heard making negative comments about the decision by the Police to rearrested the suspect.
Chisale also vowed that he would be forced to react if any officer tried to drive him to Blantyre, saying he felt unsafe and would only agree to be taken to Maula Prison.
It took a good 30 minutes before police escorted Chisale out of the room without handcuffs. All the while he kept waiving the Bible in his hands as he was taken into a Police vehicle outside.
Bail bond for Chisale included a K10 million cash bond, two non-cash surities of K50 million each, surrendering travel documents and reporting to police every Tuesday every fortnight.
Chisale met the bail conditions. However, one of the surities had to be replaced as he could not provide the court with details of his house in Blantyre.
Earlier, the magistrate —before granting bail—explained to the court that the State had requested that Chisale be kept on remand for 21 days to enable the State finish investigations as well as to stop the suspect from interfering with or influencing witnesses.
The magistrate said Chisale had mentioned a number of people in different places such as MRA, business community and construction industry, some of whom he was related to and that the State feared he would interfere with witnesses.