The High Court in Lilongwe has discharged charges of conspiracy to commit an offence, money laundering and theft against Alexander Kauwa Banda, who died in August this year, in a Cashgate case involving former Army commander General Henry Odillo (Rtd).
Kauwa’s charges were in relation to payments from the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to Thuso Group made between March and September 2013 amounting to 30 000 000 South African rand (about K1.5 billion) and K929.8 million.
Kauwa was a co-accused with Odillo, former MDF deputy commander Lieutenant General Clement Kafuwa (Rtd), former Accountant General David Kandoje and businessperson Ganizani Kuchombo.
The accused have all pleaded not guilty to charges, including conspiracy, use of public office for personal advantage, dealing in contract, money laundering, gross negligence by public officers and improper payment of public money.
When the case came up for hearing yesterday, State prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu made the formal application for discharge of Kauwa, saying the accused person passed away between last hearing of the case and yesterday.
He said: “Obviously, by law, the case against deceased abates upon his death but only against him personally. The bar would like to put it on record that it expresses the deepest respect to the deceased and heartfelt condolences to the family.”
Meanwhile, Nyasulu has prepared 439 questions based on over 500 documents submitted to the court in respect of the first witness, Harry Chawinga, which he said would take until Thursday to go through.
In asking for the other witnesses to be excused, he told the court that considering the extent of the questioning and documents to be submitted, it was unlikely that cross-examination of the witness would take place on Thursday before more are called to testify.
The other witnesses lined up are Brigadier General Chaona and Lieutenant Colonel Chizungu.
“If we finished examination in chief, it is unlikely that cross examination will be concluded by end of Thursday. I, therefore, apply that your lordship excuses them on this basis and they be recalled when required,” Nyasulu said.
Presiding High Court judge Redson Kapindu granted the prayers and stated that the fifth accused person, Kuchombo, would be referred to as the fourth accused person.
The case was adjourned to today to allow Kafuwa attend the hearing as he could not be available yesterday due to confusion in communicating the date of trial. n