The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court has found former minister of Information Henry Mussa and former director of information Gideon Munthali with a case to answer on charges of theft and conspiracy to commit a felony.
The duo was arrested last September on suspicion that they misappropriated 10 computers and a generator all valued at K11 million which Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) donated to the Ministry of Information in 2019.
In his ruling on Tuesaday, chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa said having assessed the submissions from both the defence and the State, he found it worthwhile that the accused answer the charges they were facing.
Court records show that Mussa, who is the second accused, was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to Section 404 of the Penal Code, theft contrary to Section 278 of the Penal Code or receiving stolen property contrary to Section 328 (1) of the Penal Code.
The magistrate acquitted Mussa on the charge of theft. This means he will answer its alternative, notably receiving stolen property.
On his part, Munthali was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and theft by a person employed in the public service contrary to Section 283(1) of the Penal Code.
Speaking to journalists after the ruling, Gilbert Khonyongwa, lawyer representing Mussa, said they have accepted the magistrate’s verdict and will now focus on defending the case.
“We are going to prepare defence so that when we come back we should be able to present our side of the story. I am sure that my client [Mussa] will be able to testify,” he said.
Mussa, a senior member of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party, has served in a number of ministerial portfolios, including Youth and Sports, Labour and Trade.
In an interview, Munthali’s lawyer Oswald Mtupila said he was not surprised with the ruling, saying: “I am not very shocked and I am not very worried. The good thing is that it is not the end of the case. It’s now time to hear what Mr. Munthali has in his defence.”
The case has been adjourned to July 26 this year when the court will enter full hearing with witnesses expected to be paraded.