Former president Peter Mutharika’s personal bodyguard Norman Chisale yesterday walked to freedom after the High Court in Blantyre released him on bail in his attempted murder case.
Unlike the experience at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court a fortnight ago when he was re-arrested minutes after securing bail on another charge, Chisale fully reclaimed his freedom pending trial.
In his judgement which was deferred last Wednesday, presiding High Court Judge Sylvester Kalembera ordered Chisale to pay a K1 million bail bond and provide two sureties worth K500 000 each. The court said the sureties should be his blood relations.
Further, the court ordered the suspect to surrender his travel documents to Soche Police Station, reporting to the station’s officer-in-charge fortnightly on Fridays, notify the station whenever leaving Blantyre District and stop contacting the victim or witnesses.
Kalembera indicated that Chisale will appear before the court on September 4 2020 for plea. He said the court will provide directions of the case at that time.
In the case, Chisale was arrested in connection with the shooting of 35-year-old Sigele Kaipa on May 21 in Chimwankhunda Dam residential area in Blantyre.
His arrest came minutes after the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court had granted him bail in a separate case of fraud and money laundering in relation to the duty-free importation of K5 billion worth of cement allegedly using the then president’s taxpayer identification number and duty-free entitlement.
When contacted after the judgement, Chancy Gondwe, lawyer representing Chisale, said he had no comment other than confirming that his client had walked to freedom.
Before the High Court bail ruling, Blantyre chief resident magistrate Simeon Mdeza committed the case to the upper court following an application the State made through senior assistant chief State advocate Andrew Salamba.
In an interview, Salamba said: “We came for committal proceedings as the court ordered that within seven days the accused should be committed to the High Court for his trial so the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] signed a certificate for the committal which has been presented to court.”
During the hearing of committal proceedings, Chisale was present amid heavy presence of security personnel. His family relations and well-wishers were also in attendance.
Carrying a Chichewa version of the Holy Bible while in handcuffs, Chisale walked at a normal pace both on his arrival and when he headed back to Chichiri Prison where he was remanded before his newfound freedom.
Wearing a checked grey suit with a blue shirt and matching necktie, the suspect looked composed throughout as he walked in and out of court.
On July 15, Chisale—who was considered a powerful security aide close to Mutharika—appeared before the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court where he was formally charged with fraud and money laundering which contravenes Sections 319 and 331 of the Penal Code, respectively.
When Lilongwe chief resident magistrate Violet Chipawo adjourned the bail ruling to July 17, supporters of the ousted Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) unleashed terror on journalists who had gone to the court to cover Chisale’s first court appearance.
There was drama; however, during Chisale’s second court appearance after the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court granted him bail only for police to produce a fresh arrest warrant for him in relation to the shooting incident.
This did not go down well with Chisale, who protested his re-arrest. He was subsequently transferred to Blantyre. His lawyer, on the other hand, described the development as politically motivated.
Last week Monday, Chisale appeared before the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court where an order was made to remand him for seven more days at Chichiri Prison pending committal of the case to the High Court.
Chisale has spent 12 days behind bars.