Former principal secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Joster Njanji, has asked the High Court to order the release of his vehicles and houses seized after he was charged with theft and money laundering in the loss of K2.6 billion (US$6 388 206.4) from government coffers.
However, the State yesterday challenged the application, asking the court to dismiss it because the court had not yet assessed if the property would form part of the evidence against Njanji.
The property includes three vehicles: a Toyota Prado registration BN 9591, a Mercedez Benz registration BN 3986, an Iveco truck registration NA 2562; houses in Area 47, a title deed for a house in Area 49, house plans for houses in Area 46 and Salima and Lilongwe.
Police also seized a firearm, certificate for a vehicle registration KU 3621, four cheque books, bank statements and bank deposit slips, among others.
According to court documents The Nation has sourced, Njanji through his lawyers, KD Freeman and Associates, claimed that the property which was seized was acquired before the period April to September 2013, during which the State claims he stole and laundered K2.6 billion.
His lawyers said the property could not be a subject of investigation for the charges of theft and money laundering which the State alleges their client committed.
In his affidavit, Njanji said: “The seizure is a deprivation of my right to peaceful enjoyment of my property. My property is not safe and secure and the circumstances in which it has been placed are likely to expedite their depreciation.”
Njanji, who was principal secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Culture at the time of his arrest, said further detention of his property was threatening his right to life because he could not access medical attention for his diabetic condition as he had to use taxis.
However, in its challenge to the application dated March 24, 2014, the state through Principal Legal Advocate Dziko Malunda said the property was seized to realise the money allegedly stolen and laundered by Njanji.
“Releasing the property to the applicant would in my view defeat the ends of justice. Wherefore we pray that the application for the release of property be dismissed,” Malunda said adding that Njanji’s affidavit presented to court was not signed by the applicant but his lawyer yet he was granted bail in January.
However, High Court judge Ivy Kamanga quashed the prayer to dismiss the application but adjourned the case to allow Njanji’s lawyer, Shadreck Mhango, to amend the affidavit to be sworn by Njanji because he was out on bail.