The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday granted bail to former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dalitso Kabambe and three others who are facing abuse of office charges.
Lilongwe chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa granted the quartet bail and effectively dismissed the State’s application to continue holding the suspects for 14 more days pending conclusion of investigations.
Citing Section 42 of the Constitution, he said the State had failed to satisfy the court regarding how releasing the accused persons on bail could jeopardise investigations.
He said: “It is the State’s duty to show why it would be in the interest of justice not to release the accused persons on bail. The court appreciates that this case is complex as it involves huge sums of money but the complexity and huge sums of money itself must not override the right of liberty.
“The State must show a particular person may disturb investigations. They have not assisted the court appreciate how the release of the persons may affect the investigations.”
Chirwa granted the suspects bail on condition that they each pay K5 million cash bail bond and produce two non-cash bonds. Further, the court ordered the four to notify police before leaving Lilongwe.
Kabambe (48), who is the first accused, was charged alongside former RBM deputy governor for operations Henry Mathanga (59) as second accused, Rodrick Wiyo, 51, as third accused and Leah Donga, 43, as fourth accused person.
Their arrests followed a forensic audit report into alleged fraudulent local and foreign payments made by RBM between January 1 2019 and June 30 2020.
However, the suspects did not take their pleas on Monday because the State said the charges were subject to change after investigations.
The first and second counts relate to abuse of office and allege that Kabambe as governor, Mathanga as deputy governor for operations, Wiyo as director of financial markets operations and Donga as senior finance and market operations dealer at RBM abused authority by paying K4.3 billion without approval of the central bank’s board to FDH Bank plc.
Kabambe joined active politics and is a frontrunner to replace former president Peter Mutharika as the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader and torchbearer in the 2025 general elections. His involvement in politics attracted the presence of DPP supporters, ferried to the court premises, who welcomed news of his walk to freedom with jubilation.
Representing the State, police prosecutor Levison Mangani had on Tuesday asked the court to grant the State permission to keep the four suspects on remand as investigations were still ongoing.
But defence lawyers, led by lawyer for Kabambe, Fostino Maere, dismissed the argument.