Former president Peter Mutharika’s personal bodyguard Norman Chisale yesterday got the order for his seven-day prison remand reversed to facilitate bail application, but will wait until Monday to know if he will walk to freedom.
High Court judge Sylvester Kalembera heard the bail application in his chamber after reversing Blantyre chief resident magistrate Simeon Mdeza’s order issued on Monday this week for the suspect to be remanded at Chichiri Prison for seven days in his attempted murder case pending committal to the High Court of Malawi.
In an interview after the adjournment of the matter yesterday, lawyer Chancy Gondwe, who is representing Chisale, said the defence submitted before the court that the seven-day remand order was erroneous and wrong in law.
He said: “We, therefore, asked the court to reverse that order and proceed to hear the bail application.
“The court reviewed the order of the chief resident magistrate, set it aside and proceeded to hear our bail application. The ruling [on the bail application] will be delivered on Monday.”
Gondwe said Kalembera could not deliver his judgement yesterday because there was bereavement in his family; hence, he had to travel to Zomba.
Like was the case on Wednesday during the initial attempt for the bail application, Chisale was not available at the court yesterday.
However, his family members and well-wishers were seen at the court premises waiting for the outcome of his application.
Chisale was re-arrested last Friday immediately after the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court granted him bail in a separate case of fraud and money laundering in relation to the controversial importation of K5 billion worth of cement allegedly using Mutharika’s duty-free status for sitting presidents. He is alleged to have used his boss’ taxpayer identification number to facilitate the transactions.
Gondwe said the defence had submitted to the court that, among others, Chisale should be released on bail as provided in Section 42(2)(e) of the Constitution which states that every person has the right to be released “from detention, with or without bail unless the interests of justice require otherwise”.
The defence lawyer’s sworn affidavit in support of the bail application also states that Chisale was a law abiding citizen with no criminal record and has two children as dependents; hence, not a flight risk.
The affidavit also states that Chisale has strong family, emotional and community ties as well as relations and other family members ready to stand as sureties should the court decide to grant him bail.
Further, Gondwe said in view of the fact that the State had already recorded a caution statement from Chisale, the interest of justice required that he be released on bail.
Reads the affidavit in part: “That considering that there is an outbreak of the coronavirus in the Republic and the State is actively encouraging that people should practice social distancing and hygiene , it is not in the interest of justice that the applicant [Chisale] should continue being in an enclosed environment where social distancing and hygiene practices are compromised.”
While the media waited outside Kalembera’s chamber to get what transpired in court, it was learnt that Gondwe and other lawyers had used another door when leaving the chamber.
Chisale was arrested on the attempted murder charge for allegedly shooting a woman in the knee in Blantyre in May, but Gondwe has described the arrest as politically motivated.
However, the Tonse Alliance administration has maintained that the wave of arrests that have so far largely targeted those who either served in or were aligned to the then governing Democratic Progressive Party were a crackdown on corruption, abuse of office and impunity.
To date, others from the Mutharika era arrested include Bangwe Mthandizi Ward councillor Jomo Osman, Malawi Revenue Authority former deputy commissioner Roza Mbilizi and Gerald Viola, deputy chief executive officer at the National Food Reserve Agency, who were later released on police bail.
Yesterday there was also a wave of arrests at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi in connection with financial crimes at the power company.