The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is studying a court order to decide the possibility of commencing criminal charges on a leaked audio involving Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala yesterday confirmed the DPP was served with an order that Mzuzu senior resident magistrate Godfrey Nyirenda granted last month ordering the Malawi Police Service and the DPP to investigate the leaked audio.
“I can confirm that we have been served with the court order and we are evaluating it,” he said.
Ruling on an application by Mzuzu resident Frighton Phombo, Nyirenda further ordered Police and DPP to ascertain if criminal charges can be brought against Chizuma.
Yesterday, a source privy to the matter said the DPP was expected to write the Office of the Attorney General to seek direction because the office of the DPP does not have investigative powers.
“It’s a legal process and what is happening is that the DPP does not have investigative powers, so they have to engage either the police to do that. But the DPP is writing the Attorney General seeking direction on the matter,” said the source.
Phombo moved the court to open a case against Chizuma on allegations that she violated the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) by revealing to a third party information on United Kindom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar, who is under investigation for corruption.
He contended that Chizuma committed an offence of directly revealing official information to un-authorised person, contrary to regulation 4(a) of the CPA, and that of making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to judicial proceedings, contrary to Section 113 (1) (d) of the Penal Code.
But Nyirenda said even though a leeway is given for private citizens to institute criminal proceedings, the overall and ultimate authority over such proceedings remains with the DPP.
On January 24, President Lazarus Chakwera reprimanded Chizuma for the leaked conversation, indicating that he had summoned her for a meeting where she confirmed speaking about ongoing investigation in the leaked audio that had gone viral.
He described her action as unfortunate but said he would not dismiss her. Instead, he issued a stern warning that he will keep an eye on her conduct.
Chizuma is also facing defamation charges lodged by Sattar’s business associate Ashok Kumar Sreedharan, who sued her for alleging in the audio that money changed hands to have him released after an arrest.
In the audio, Chizuma put in the spotlight churches, judges, lawyers and the Presidency as not helping matters in the Sattar case, which so far, she said has proved politically divisive.