The Zambia maize purchase trial involving former minister of Agriculture, Water Development and Irrigation George Chaponda has been referred back to the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court, barely a week after it was committed to the High Court.
This comes after High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise nullified a certificate for summary procedure trial the State, through the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), obtained from the director of public prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale on November 22.
The granting of the certificate, commonly referred to as certificate of committal by the DPP, effectively transferred the case from the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court to the High Court.
Two of the defence lawyers, Jai Banda and Lusungu Gondwe, confirmed that the case had been sent back to the lower court but referred the matter to their lead counsel Tamando Chokhotho whose phone was not available yesterday.
However, while confirming about the order, lead counsel for the State Macmillan Chakhala said they would be meeting the DPP this week to map the way forward.
According to a court document, Judicial Review case number 70 of 2017 which The Nation has seen, Judge Madise granted lawyers for Chaponda and Rashid Tayub, director of Transglobe Produce Export Limited, permission to apply for judicial review of the decision of the DPP to commit the matter to the High Court.
“The decision of the defendant certifying the case in the court below… as a summary procedure case [to be tried in the High Court] is hereby stayed and rendered of no effect until the determination of this matter,” reads the court order in part.
The rendering of no effect of the certificate of committal essentially means there is nothing to stop proceedings to continue in the magistrate’s court, as such, Blantyre chief resident magistrate (CRM) Simeon Mdeza will have to come up with new dates to proceed presiding over the case.
Chaponda is answering to three charges, including 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. n