The High Court in Lilongwe yesterday adjourned hearing of the K2 billion Cashgate case involving former Army Commander Henry Odillo and four others following the absence of one of the accused, David Kandoje.
Kandoje was reported to be answering another Cashgate-related case with Justice Esmie Chombo.
After hearing from both sides on how they were supposed to proceed with parading State witnesses when one of the accused was absent, Justice Redson Kapindu said it was better to adjourn.
“It is unfortunate that the matter once again has to be adjourned. I agree with both counsels from defence and State that it will be in the interest of justice that the accused be present or represented by his lawyer. So, we have to adjourn the hearing until Thursday,” he said.
Earlier in the court, defence lawyer Moses Nkhono told the judge that they needed direction on how they could proceed with the matter considering that his client was also appearing before another judge in the K4 billion Cashgate case involving former budget director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others where he was also being cross-examined.
“I would like to get direction on how we should proceed with this case considering that Mr. Kandoje is not present and I, as his lawyer, will also not be available. He will be done with the other case tomorrow, so I propose we adjourn until him and I are around,” he said.
In an interview after the adjournment, State prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu said there was nothing they could have done, after listening to the plea from defence, other than asking the court to adjourn the proceedings until the accused is present.
“We have proposed to the court that the case be adjourned today because one of the accused, Billy Kandoje, is appearing before Justice Esmie Chombo. In the hierarchy of the courts, she is higher than our judge so she takes precedence. That’s why we have allowed that the court should adjourn,” he said.
Odillo, alongside his former deputy Clement Kafuwa, Thuso Group proprietor Nelson Kauwa Banda, Ganizani Sionga Kuchombo and former Accountant General David Kandoje are accused of multiple counts of conspiracy, money laundering, gross negligence by public officers and improper payment of public money, among others.
According to the charge sheet by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the prosecution centres around illegal payments of ZAR 30 000 000 (about K1.4 billion) and K929 810 000 made by the Malawi Defence Force headquarters between March and September 2013 to Nelson Kauwa and Ganizani Sionga Kuchombo trading as Thuso Group.