Former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and his wife Thandi as well as director of Office of Directorate of Public Assets Declaration Christopher Tukula spent one more night in police custody over 48 hours after their respective arrests as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is yet to formally charge them.
Tukula, a lawyer by profession, was arrested on Friday evening for allegedly interfering with investigations into the ongoing cases on Cashgate, the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill.
Mphwiyo, whose shooting at the gate of his house in Lilongwe’s Area 43 residential estate on the night of September 13 2013 exposed the free-for-all plunder of public resources, was arrested on Saturday for money laundering, theft and conspiracy to defeat the course of justice whereas his wife has been informally charged with theft and money laundering.
In an interview yesterday, ACB deputy director Reyneck Matemba said the three will be charged in due course and within the legally stipulated 48 hours.
Said Matemba: “They have all not been formally charged. In the case of the Mphwiyo family, we have not taken their statements. We are hoping we will do all this tomorrow [Today] as they will be applying for their bail.”
But president of the Malawi Law Society, Mandala Mambulasa, said the 48-hour rule which provides that suspects should be charged and granted bail within that period as stipulated in the Constitution Section 42 (2)(b) does not rule out Saturdays and Sundays.
“The law says as soon as it is reasonably possible, but not later than 48 hours after the arrest, or if the period of 48 hours expires outside ordinary court hours or on a day which is not a court day, the first court day after such expiry, suspects should be brought before an independent and impartial court of law and to be charged or to be informed of the reason for his or her further detention, failing which he or she shall be released,” said Mambulasa.
Tukula, who was highly expected to appear before court for a possible bail application yesterday, was arrested on Friday evening and was nowhere to be seen at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court where The Nation team had camped.
In an interview, Tukula’s lawyer Raphael Kasambara said: “Madam, these things are as a result of a process.”
When asked whether his client would get a bail ruling, he maintained his earlier statement.
Tukula’s arrest sparked a heated debate as the ACB was accused of making the arrest against a court order to stop the same.
But Matemba said Kasambara’s purported fresh order to protect Tukula from arrest was yet to be served on the bureau.
Tukula was hired about two months ago as director of the Office of Directorate of Public Assets Declaration. He was engaged by Parliament.
The President, the Vice-President and several senior public officers are expected to declare their wealth upon assuming office through Tukula’s office.