Lawyer for four of the 18 suspects in the K2.4 billion Cashgate case involving former budget director Paul Mphwiyo has stopped representing his clients, citing contractual disagreements.
This was revealed when the High Court sat at the Lilongwe Civic Offices yesterday to continue hearing the case in which Mphwiyo and the 18 other suspects are answering charges of conspiracy to defraud government, holding property belonging to government, theft, money laundering, fraudulently issuing 24 cheques worth K2.4 billion, abuse of public office and usage of proceeds of crime.
In a telephone interview after the early adjournment of the proceedings lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa said he had withdrawn from the case following contractual disagreements.
“The reasons are contractual in nature; there have been some contractual disagreements. So, I decided to withdraw from the case,” he said.
Khonyongwa, who was representing three contractors and one civil servant—Sympathy Chisale, a Mr. Manzi, Fatch Chongano and Patrick Chilalika—however, said there is room for discussions with the clients.
High Court Judge Esmie Chombo informed the court that the defence had some announcements to make before adjourning the hearing for today after both sides went into discussions on how to proceed with the case following new developments and a revised timeline.
“I apologise for [keeping] people in the dark since morning. We were doing chamber matters and we have some information that we would like to announce to the public.
“From the meeting we had in the chambers, we have agreed that the hearing starts tomorrow with the State parading its witnesses and there are slight changes in the dates on the March sessions as on 22 and 23 we will not meet and also we will have a break in April,” she said.
On Khonyongwa’s withdrawal, Chombo said she was waiting for a formal notification from him and the clients on what will be their next step.
Powell Nkhutabasa from the defence announced the withdrawal of their friend, saying the clients and the lawyer could discuss on who will present them, another lawyer or themselves.
On the change of dates for the hearing, Nkhutabasa said he had reservations but will comment in due course.
“I have my own reservations on the timeline presented to us. I will present my issues in court, telling it now will be like pre-empting. So, in due course I will have a say,” he said. n