Fiscal Police in Lilongwe yesterday arrested businessperson Shaffe Chunara, owner of Prestige Imports and Exports, in connection with the controversial K5 billion duty-free cement saga.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed Chunara’s arrest yesterday in an interview, but said details, including specific charges, would be announced later.
He said: “I can confirm he is currently at Lingadzi Police in Lilongwe and we will release details of the matter when we are ready.”
Chunara becomes the second person to be arrested for the cement saga after police earlier arrested Norman Chisale, aide to former president Peter Mutharika.
Chisale was officially charged with fraud and money laundering in connection with the cement purchase.
But in court last week, police indicated that investigations are still continuing and at the time denied Chisale’s bail application on the premise that he may know other suspects; hence, interfere with the probe.
However, chief resident magistrate Violet Chipawo on Friday granted him bail for the charge linked to cement importation before he was immediately re-arrested for a separate attempted murder charge.
Reads the particulars of the offences: “Norman Paulosi Chisale during the years 2018 and 2019 in the City of Lilongwe by deceit or other fraudulent means imported 800 000 bags of cement without paying duty thereby causing a pecuniary detriment of 5 billion Malawi kwacha to the Government of Malawi.”
The Nation first reported about the importation of the cement by President Peter Mutharika, initially valued at K3.2 billion, using his duty free status.
Then the media reported about the figure rising to K5 billion, the same mentioned on the formal charges, with the total amount of cement rising to 60 000 metric tonnes within six years.
The cement was allegedly imported from Zambia and Zimbabwe and is suspected to have entered the country using the duty free status that presidents enjoy to import goods for personal use. n