Cashgate suspect Paul Mphwiyo has avoided having his bail revoked after the High Court in Lilongwe ruled that he risks going to jail if he contacts State witnesses again.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale had asked the court to declare whether Mphwiyo, a former Ministry of Finance budget director, had breached bail conditions by contacting State witnesses and if he had to have his bail revoked and spend time behind bars as the case against him and 17 others continues.
In a ruling dated November 14 but released on Wednesday last week, High Court judge Esmie Chombo declared that Mphwiyo had breached one of the bail conditions not to contact any State witnesses when he approached Francis Zhuwawo, Daniel Jenya and Leonard Kalonga.
But the judge said she would only caution him against contacting any witnesses by himself or through any of his intermediaries.
She said: “Failure to abide by this caution will result in bail being revoked and the respondent to stay in custody until the completion of the case.”
In its submission, the State told the court that Mphwiyo contacted the State witnesses with the interferences ranging from promises of help from government or judicial officials to aggressive threats to family and property of the witnesses.
Although the State witnesses did not appear to testify on the allegations, they reported to the police, according to affidavits from the State and police.
In his defence, Mphwiyo denied contacting Kalonga and Zhuwawo, but admitted being in touch with Jenya for purposes of academic research which he was doing.
In his affidavit, Mphwiyo alleged that the DPP had pressured him to claim that suspects in his shooting case were intimidating him and should have their bail revoked which Kachale and prosecutor Enoch Chibwana denied.
Said Chombo in her ruling: “Any reasonable person would ask whether the respondent is only coming up with these serious allegations now because he finds himself on the other side of the law.
“In my view, upon evaluating all the evidence on record, I find that the respondent was in serious breach of his conditions of bail. Interference with witnesses is a very serious issue.”
The High Court resumes sitting today for the State to parade more witnesses in the case in which Mphwiyo and 17 others are facing charges of theft, money laundering and abuse of office of an amount not exceeding K2.4 billion in 2013.
Mphwiyo’s shooting outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on the night of September 13 2013 is widely believed to have opened a can of worms that exposed the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill through dubious payments later called Cashgate.