State witness businessperson Luciano Chiumbudzo has denied being in contact with any of the three suspects in the on-going attempted murder case of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
The three suspects are former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Raphael Kasambara, businessperson Pika Manondo and former Malawi Defence Force soldier Macdonald Kumwembe.
Chiumbudzo, who is a panel beater based in South Africa, told the court that since he left Malawi in 2011, he has never returned until now. He, however, admitted knowing Kumwembe.
In an earlier court appearance, Kumwembe claimed to have been in Mozambique during the shooting of Mphwiyo outside the gate of his Area 43 house in Lilongwe, and that his mobile phone was being used by Chiumbudzo.
In addition, Manondo also claimed that on September 11 2013 he booked Chiumbudzo into a lodge in Area 47 and that on September 14 the same year, Manondo drove Chiumbudzo to Dedza.
However, Chiumbudzo told the court that the claims were not true because he was in South Africa at that time.
He produced a bus ticket to prove that he only came to Malawi on January 30 this year. However, he told the courts that he could not produce his passport because it had been lost during the xenophobia attacks in South Africa that resurfaced in April last year.
During cross-examination, Enoch Chibwana asked Chiumbudzo if he knew any of the suspects and where he knew them from.
In his response, Chiumbudzo said: “I have known Macdonald Kumwembe from as far back as 1980/81. We were neighbours. I then moved to Mtandire in 1989, but we remained in contact.”
Chiumbudzo also denied reports from Kumwembe in his affidavit that the two were related.
“If I say we are related, I will fail to justify how related we are, but we are friends,” he said.
Kasambara was found with a case to answer, while Manondo and Kumwembe were found with conspiracy to commit murder. The case resumes today with defence continuing to cross examine Chiumbudzo.