Former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Raphael Kasambara, who is a co-accused in the case of conspiracy to murder former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo, yesterday tussled with a prosecution witness over his line of questioning.
In his cross-examination, the third accused wanted to know whether the witness, Luciano Chiumbudzo, maintained contact with his long-time friend Macdonald Kumwembe, a former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier whom Mphwiyo identified as his shooter on the night of September 13 2013 in Area 43, Lilongwe.
Kasambara also sought to find out if Chiumbudzo met Kumwembe when he returned from Botswana.
Kasambara’s line of questioning was trying to authenticate Kumwembe’s affidavit which indicated that the rebuttal witness, Chiumbudzo, had Kumwembe’s mobile phone handset at the time Mphwiyo was shot outside the gate of his house. He also wanted to imply that Kumwembe could not have shot Mphwiyo as suggested in Mphwiyo’s affidavit.
But Kasambara’s “yes” or “no” line of questioning did not go down well with Chiumbudzo who preferred to explain his answers to be heard.
Said Kasambara: “Very simple and straightforward Mr Chiumbudzo; did you meet Kumwembe when you came back from Botswana? Yes or no.”
In his response, Chiumbudzo said: “I am sorry if I seem not to answer as per your request. I need to explain so that the Malawi nation hears me well and good. It is also my right to be heard just as you are being heard. Please do not put words in my mouth.”
Earlier, presiding High Court Judge Michael Mtambo cautioned Kasambara against making allegations he could not prove.
This was after Kasambara told the court that Chiumbudzo once worked for Nunes Panel Beaters and was fired from his post allegedly after stealing a compressor.
Kasambara further accused Chiumbudzo of stealing a Mercedes Benz in Botswana and that he was deported following the theft.
But Mtambo asked Kasambara to provide proof of all the allegations, saying Chiumbudzo’s brother, Peter, also gave testimony on the relationship between the Chiumbudzo family and the Kumwembes.
Later in the afternoon, Mtambo granted the defence permission to counter rebuttal State witnesses. The case continues today with Kumwembe taking the stand. During the hearing on Monday, Chiumbudzo told the court that he was not in Malawi at the time of Mphwiyo’s shooting in 2013, as he had been living in South Africa from 2011 and only returned in January this year.