The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court has denied bail to former Blantyre Water Board (BWB) employee Brian Makote suspected to have defrauded the board money amounting to K128 million.
The former debt collector who was arrested in Botswana by the International Police (Interpol) last month and extradited to Malawi last Friday has now been remanded to Chichiri prison waiting for commencement of trial on November 3.
He is facing charges of conspiracy, theft by public servant, forgery, uttering false documents and money laundering.
Makote and his colleague who used to work as a plumber Obina Liwonde are suspected to have siphoned the money using a parallel account they opened at Nedbank Malawi Limited Blantyre Branch.
However, another suspect in the matter Foster Kapito is also on remand at Chichiri prison. Kapito is suspected to have been a signatory for the parallel account.
Giving his ruling on the matter, Senior Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba highlighted that he could not grant bail to the suspect considering that Malawi has porous borders which will make it easy for the suspect to escape the country.
“Having weighed arguments from both sides, I believe it will not be in the interest of justice to release the suspect on bail, for even after surrendering their travel documents, some have managed to flee the country using unchartered roots,” he argued.
Nyimba further said he also weighed the period the accused person will be in custody before commencement of trial adding that keeping him on remind will ensure smooth running of the case.
“The period will also allow the police to conclude their investigations on the matter and serve disclosures for trial to begin,” he added.
He however advised the defence that they are flee to make another bail application upon commencement of trial.
In its submission on Monday before the ruling, Makote’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe argued that just like any other suspected criminal who is presumed innocent until an honourable court proves otherwise, Makote deserved to be granted bail.
Gondwe also quashed assertions by the state indicating that his client fled to Botswana after noticing that the police were looking for him.
According to Gondwe, Makote is not a flight risk as he never fled the country after allegedly committing the said crime but went to Botswana for a breather.
However, the state through Southern Region Prosecution Officer Christopher Katani maintained that Makoti is a flight risk arguing that he did not notify his office when he left for Botswana.
Reacting to the ruling, Regional Prosecution Inspector Superintendent Patricio Filimoni expressed satisfaction over the court’s decision.
“We are very happy, we struggled to have the suspect arrested, up to the extent of engaging the Interpol. Suppose he is granted bail and then flee the country, how would we approach the Interpol again? Surely they would not take us serious,” he said.