Former minister of Homeland Security Cecelia Chazama and six others have pleaded not guilty to the charge of abuse of office in a case about the recruitment of 127 immigration assistants.
The Blantyre Principal Resident Magistrate’s Court on the same Friday granted bail to the seven who were arrested on Thursday.
The other six are former Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services director general Masauko Medi, former Department of Human Resource Management and Development Principal Secretary (PS) Hilario Chimota and Immigration Department officials Pudensiana Makalamba, Datson Manda, Limbani Chawinga and Chandiwira Chidothe.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) charged the seven with one count of abuse of office and the suspects pleaded not guilty when they appeared before principal resident magistrate Godfrey Balaka.
Chazama, who is the first accused in the matter, is being accused of taking advantage of her ministerial position in 2017 to instruct Medi, through her PS, to include three people only known to her in a recruitment process at the department.
Chimota, on the other hand, is being accused of authorising entry of the 127 illegally recruited immigration assistants into the Malawi Government payroll system for processing of their salaries.
One of the defence lawyers, Ian Malera, asked the court to release the accused on bail as they are law abiding citizens who have permanent residences and that they cannot flee the country.
In his submission, ACB lawyer Michael Kalonga said the State had no objection to the application.
Balaka ordered each of the seven to pay K100 000 cash bond and present one surety each bonded at K500 000. The accused were also ordered to be reporting to ACB offices on Fridays and that they should surrender all the irtravel documents.
The magistrate also directed ACB to serve both the court and defence with disclosures within four weeks, file notice of hearing two weeks later and that full trial will begin after six weeks before chief resident magistrate Chisomo Msokera.
The suspects were arrested after the ACB received a complaint alleging that the Immigration Department had recruited 210 immigration assistants who did not possess the required qualifications.