Lilongwe Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday granted bail to former minister of Irrigation and Water Development Charles Mchacha and his two accomplices in a case of defrauding government of K539 000 to fund his honeymoon.
Mchacha was arrested by the Anti -Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday alongside former Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development Henrie Njoloma and Lilongwe Water Board acting chief executive officer Moses Mwenye.
And yesterday the trio pleaded not guilty to six charges levelled against them. The charges ranged from abuse of office, theft, neglect of duty to money laundering.
The State through the ACB prosecutor Benjamin Mandala told the court that it has obtained consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute the matter.
He said: “We have not yet filed and served the defence with disclosures and therefore we are asking the court for an adjournment.”
Mandala, however, told the court that although the State would not object to the accused being granted bail, he would plead with the court to give a cash bail bond equivalent to the money under dispute.
Particulars of the offense show that between May 2020 and July 2020 Mchacha abused his office by directing Njoloma to facilitate his access to lodging services and foodstuffs at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre on the pretext of lobbying fellow ministers and MPs to adjust water tariffs.
On the other hand, Njoloma and Mwenye allegedly aided and abetted the ex-minister to abuse his office by instructing public officers to process the payment of K539 052. 00.
Reads the charge sheet: “Mchacha fraudulently converted a sum of K539 052. 00 being property of Lilongwe Water Board through cheque number 008862 for his own benefit in paying for lodging services at Ryalls Hotel.”
Defence lawyer Oscar Taulo applied for bail for his clients which chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa granted.
The suspects were told to pay K500 000 cash bail bond each, surrender travelling documents, produce K1 million bail surety and to report to ACB offices once fortnightly.
Scores of Democratic Progressive Party supporters, some clad in party regalia, thronged the court premises and chanted songs as the proceedings were underway in court.