Police in Lilongwe yesterday arrested Dauka Manondo, one of the suspects in the ongoing trial of the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo, on allegations of threatening witnesses.
Manondo’s arrest, confirmed by National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo, comes barely two weeks after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale accused the defence in the case of employing ‘mafia-like operations’ to intimidate witnesses.
But Manjolo could not give details of the charges Manondo is facing, saying: “I cannot divulge all the details at the moment, but investigations are ongoing and he will appear in court soon.”
However, Matthews Chizonde, a private practice lawyer who will represent Manondo in the case, said police officers investigating the case told him that his client’s charges border on threatening State witnesses in the Mphwiyo shooting case as well as threatening the chief public prosecutor, Kachale.
Said Chizonde: “However, he [Manondo] has not been formally charged. It is not clear when my client will be taken to court.”
In the wake of the threats as earlier alleged by Kachale, the DPP asked the High Court to revoke bail for Manondo and other suspects, except businessperson and politician Oswald Lutepo who is yet to enter his plea and is bedridden.
Kachale also submitted recordings of two of the State witnesses who mentioned former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara, the Manondo brothers—Dauka and Pika—and Macdonald Kumwembe as people who threatened them.
Presiding High Court judge Michael Mtambo is yet to make a ruling on the application, which Kasambara has described as personal persecution against him and attempts to delay the trial.
Besides Kasambara, the Manondo brothers, Kumwembe and Lutepo, the other suspect in the conspiracy to commit murder case is Robert Kadzuwa.
Trial is set to resume on April 7 through to April 8 and 9 when Mtambo will make a ruling. Cross examination of police investigator Kankwala Chilinda is expected to start then.
Mphwiyo was shot at on the night of September 13 2013 as he drove into his compound in Lilongwe’s Area 43 residential estate.
His shooting is believed to have opened a can of worms about the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill that has come to be known as Cashgate.