Private practice lawyer Ralph Kasambara’s ex-domestic worker yesterday told the High Court in Lilongwe that former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and her boss met on the day Mphwiyo was shot.
Jesse Mussa Kafuwe, who worked as a domestic worker at Kasambara’s residence in Lilongwe, said Mphwiyo and the former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs at the time, exchanged bags during their meeting.
She also told the court that Kasambara drove out with Pika Manondo on the evening in a Mercedes Benz which in the morning was found parked in an unusual space behind the servants’ quarters at the senior counsel’s residence.
The witness further said she was later asked to keep registration plates of the vehicle outside the house by a Patrick Gada who she described as a friend to Kasambara.
When the attempted murder case started in August last year, Mphwiyo had identified Kasambara and Manondo as two of the five people who approached him at the gate of his Area 43 house before a man, identified as Macdonald Kumwembe, fired shots at him.
Kasambara is answering charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder alongside Kumwembe who Mphwiyo identified as the shooter, DaukaManondo, PikaManondo, Robert Kadzuwa and businessperson Cashgate suspect Osward Lutepo.
The first five have pleaded not guilty while Lutepo is yet to enter his plea as he is currently bedridden.
The maid said she saw Kasambara’s visitor, who his wife later identified to her as Mphwiyo, go to his car and bring out a bag which he later took back to the vehicle but without its contents.
Said Kafuwe: “I later found a bag in their [Kasambaras’] bedroom as I was cleaning which was out of place, I tried to put it back but it was too heavy. When I opened to check why it was heavy, I found there was money. I did not count because it seemed like a lot of money.”
After she was dismissed, Kasambara’s wife allegedly warned Kafuwe by telephone not to say anything about the happenings at the Kasambara residence, especially about number plates of the Mercedes Benz and Kasambara’s connection to the Mphwiyo shooting.
Defence lawyers are expected to continue cross-examining Kafuwe when trial resumes this morning.
Earlier yesterday, the State had paraded five more witnesses with one of them, Mphwiyo’s brother-in-law, Gabriel Rashid, telling the court he was trailed up to a police station by some unknown people.
Rashid told the court that his sister and Mphwiyo’s wife, Thandizo, informed him that the budget chief had been shot.
He said Thandizo then asked him to rush to the scene where she then sent him to go to their house to fetch fresh clothes.
As he was heading back to the hospital, Rashid said a vehicle with full lights followed him but as he slowed down to allow it to pass, he heard a voice from the vehicle say: “Hit him.”
Said Rashid: “I speeded up, but the vehicle followed me up to the T-junction entering the main road where I made a turn at a very high speed such that I am sure God was with me.”
The vehicle, which he described as a dark double cabin possibly Toyota brand, followed him at a high speed up to Area 18 where he made a sharp turn to Lingadzi Police Station to report that he was being chased.
But during cross-examination, Rashid was taken to task over the names of the police officers who met him at Lingadzi Police Station and how a Toyota RunX which he was driving could have managed to outrun a 4×4 vehicle as he described.
“The Toyota RunX is low compared to Toyota Raider, but was able to take it through such a bumpy road ahead of the Toyota Raider?” PikaManondo’s lawyer, John-Gift Mwakhwawa, sceptically asked.
Kasambara, who is representing himself, asked Rashid if he saw sense in the police calling him to identify a Toyota Fortuner, which was light in colour, when he reported the car which followed him was dark.
Other witnesses who testified included Rhoda Ndovi, a family friend of the Manondo brothers who told the court that Dauka Manondo arrived at her house before 6am the night after the shooting claiming that his friend had been shot and he was fearing for his life as well.
Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) head of surgery Dr Carlos Valera recounted how he received a patient on whom he performed a minor surgery before he referred him to South Africa for specialist treatment.
Mphwiyo’s friend, Yambani Mulemba, a lawyer by profession, also testified that he facilitated contact with Valera, but Kasambara was more interested in an envelope which he claimed contained dollars that Mulemba fetched the day after the shooting.
But Mulemba said he gave the envelope a cursory glance to satisfy himself that it contained medication as Mphwiyo’s wife had asked him to do.
Kasambara said the envelope contained dollars which Mulemba was asked to collect from Mphwiyo’s vehicle, but Mulemba denied it.
There are two more witnesses which the State is expected to parade in the three-day session of the trial.