State lawyers in the Zambia maize purchase corruption trial are consulting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mary Kachale for direction after the defence obtained a notice of hearing of the case at Blantyre Magistrate’s Court.
Lead State counsel MacMillan Chakhala said yesterday they were surprised with the defence’s action to obtain the notice for the case to come in the magistrate’s court on January 12 2018 instead of waiting for the judicial review determination.
Trial of the case, which involves former minister of Agriculture, Water Development and Irrigation George Chaponda and business person Rashid Tayub, was referred back to Blantyre Magistrate’s Court after it was committed to the High Court.
This came after High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise nullified a certificate for committal of the State, through lawyers from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), obtained from the office of DPP on November 22.
Madise also granted lawyers for Chaponda and Tayub permission to apply for judicial review of the decision of the DPP.
But yesterday Chakhala said they were stunned with the notice to proceed with the matter before the judicial review is resolved.
He said: “Right now, we are consulting with the DPP and weighing our legal options. We will go to the right court to ask for the right remedy.”
But the defence team said the matter was proceeding at the magistrate’s court because the judge rendered the certificate of committal of no effect.
“While the case will go for judicial review, trial will also continue because it was specifically directed so by the High Court,” explained Chokhotho, lead counsel for the defence.
Chaponda is answering three out of the four charges which include giving false information to ACB, influencing a public officer to misuse his position, and possession of foreign currency while Tayub is answering to the charge of persuading a public officer to misuse his position. They both pleaded not guilty.