The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court has remanded 16 Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) officials for seven more days pending investigations into their alleged abuse of K4.6 million Covid-19 funds.
The 16, who were arrested on charges of abuse of office and theft by public servant, appeared before chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa yesterday when the State applied to the court to have the suspects remanded for 14 days to conclude investigations.
The State argued that the case was complex and serious in nature, therefore, needed more time to investigate.
But lawyers for suspects applied for bail arguing the State could still carry out its investigations while the accused were on bail. The defence added that the State should have conducted the investigations before arresting the suspects.
Chirwa said although the suspects have the right to bail and the State could have conducted the investigation before making arrests, he agreed with the State that it needed more time for investigations.
He said he was satisfied with
the State’s argument that it did not have enough time to conclude investigations, saying the case emanates from a report on Covid-19 funds abuse and the issue was likely complex in nature.
Said Chirwa: “The State needs more time to investigate the matter. However, seven days is enough for the State to conclude investigations.”
He then told the defence lawyers to reapply for bail once the seven days have elapsed.
One of the lawyers for the accused Pawene Nkhata said they will comply with the court ruling.
“We will go by what the court has said. After the seven days, we will make the application for bail,” he said.
Government earlier released K6.2 billion to fight Covid-19, but there are reports of abuse of the funds.
President Lazarus Chakwera asked for detailed reports on how the funds were spent and warned that those found guilty of abuse will face the law.