Blantyre senior resident magistrate Akya Mwanyongo yesterday denied bail to six people accused of stealing K437 000 gate revenue at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Saturday.
The accused are gate cashiers Chiyembekezo Buffalo aged 21, Tingo Fungulani, 22, Prince Ndalama, 19 and Gladys Meja, 24, alongside Laston Theu, 27 and Wyson Chingana, 35, who are directors of Unity Gate Management System, a firm that was hired to collect cash at the gates during a TNM Super League match between Mighty Wanderers and Sable Farming last Saturday.
Lawyer representing the suspects Ian Kumpita made the bail application yesterday after the suspects appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charge of theft, which is contrary to section 278 of the Penal Code.
However, Mwanyongo said it was too early to make such an application and adjourned the case to April 25 after State prosecutor Francis Malenga asked for the same.
The State said the five witnesses it wants to parade were not ready to appear in court.
“Bail can only be granted once the trial starts. The case has been adjourned to next Monday,” the magistrate ruled.
In court, Kumpita, who is representing the suspects pro bono, argued that the defendants deserved to be out on bail because there was no risk that they can flee.
“All the suspects stay in Chilobwe Township, Blantyre. Some are married and have children. The fact that they did not resist arrest and they have no previous offences proves that they cannot run away, but avail themselves in court during trial,” he said.
But Malenga insisted the six should remain in police custody for fear that they would interfere with the witnesses, who are direct business partners to some of them.
“Indeed bail application is a constitutional right. Nevertheless, we fear that if given bail, the suspects might somehow connive with the witnesses to disrupt this case since they are direct business partners,” he said.
The case has been entered as criminal case number 512 of 2022.
The arrest of the suspects followed football stakeholders’ dissatisfaction with gate revenue at big facilities after a mid-week Super League match between Nyasa Big Bullets and newly-promoted side Dedza Dynamos at Balaka Stadium grossed K12 million, a similar amount generated at a recent Blantyre derby involving Bullets and Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium.