Kalua, who is also People’s Party (PP) third vice-president, sued MRA senior tax investigation officer Maganizo Chinkoko, who was lead investigator during the raid; MRA officer Winstone Honde and assistant commissioner of police and regional criminal investigations officer in the Southern Region, Edwin Magalasi, accusing them of abusing their offices through the action of seizing vehicles from his house and that of his son.
In their defence served to the High Court of Malawi principal registry in Blantyre on June 22 2017 through Beatrice Mwangwela, a lawyer in MRA’s legal section, the defendants contend that they acted within the course of their employment and with full authority of their superiors at MRA and MPS.
“The first and second defendants deny that they neglected and recklessly ignored that customs duty was paid on the said motor vehicles nor that the plaintiff complied with custom laws and further states that what the plaintiff purported to show as proof of clearance is just a letter of approval from MRA to Parliament for the plaintiff to clear the motor vehicles duty free but he never produced any customs clearance certificate from the MRA as proof of clearance with customs, thereby raising further suspicion that he did not comply with customs laws,” reads in part the court document which The Nation has seen.
The trio also observe that Kalua did not proceed to register the motor vehicles under the duty concession in the name of MRA as the title holder is required under customs laws; and that the plaintiff’s conduct was a risk to public revenue collection as the said motor vehicle is not registered with the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services where it cannot be traced in the Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis).
Further reads the defence: “The first warrant that was obtained by the MRA was on reasonable suspicion that the plaintiff [Kalua] had committed offences under customs laws based on the information received from an informant and subsequent warrant was obtained by the Malawi Police Service on reasonable suspicion that the plaintiff’s motor vehicles were stolen and further investigations revealed information to that effect.
“The defendants deny the statement of claim and put the plaintiff to strict proof of the malicious intent and abuse or misuse of public office and further state that all steps taken by the defendants were within the law and was done with full authority of the court and all instructions were with full authority of MRA and Malawi Police Service.”
The three officers raided the house of Kalua in Blantyre’s Nkolokosa Township accompanied by armed police officers and seized the vehicles on allegation that they were smuggled into the country.
Kalua is seeking compensation for injuries suffered by his person, namely being put to public shame and ridicule, embarrassment to his reputation and credit as a member of Parliament (MP), among others.
The seized vehicles, including a grounded Jeep, were later returned after the legislator obtained an injunction against the action.
Meanwhile, Kalua’s lawyer, Wanangwa Hara, said in an interview the matter between his client and the trio will now go for mediation to enable the parties attempt to settle the issue out-of-court. He said the case would go back to court if the mediation process fails.
Kalua is also embroiled in another battle with the police who accuse him of staging his own abduction.
The legislator has since quashed the assertions by the law enforcers, saying it is bent at tarnishing his image.