Police on Tuesday morning arrested Clerk of Parliament Matilda Katopola and released her on bail, but refused to disclose the charge(s).
“It is true that she was arrested this morning and questioned for some hours, but I do not have the details,” said police spokesperson Dave Chingwalu.
Katopola, who appeared before the police dressed in a white suit and looking calm, confirmed her arrest after she came out of police headquarters in Lilongwe. She declined to comment further when asked how she felt. She had handed over herself to the police.
Her arrest and reasons were kept under a tight lid throughout the day. Director of Criminal Investigations Department Lexa Chalera did not answer her mobile phone. Inspector General of Police Lot Dzonzi also confirmed the arrest, but said he was still waiting for details.
But police sources claimed Katopola was charged based on a 2008 case in which she was accused of mis-procurement of colour printing services for the National Assembly Strategic Plan at the cost of K86 997.
Both the National Audit Office and the Parliamentary Service Commission cleared Katopola of the allegation when Louis Chimango was Speaker of the National Assembly and chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission.
Current Speaker of Parliament and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) were both not aware of Katopola’s arrest on Tuesday.
“I am not aware about that arrest,” Speaker Chimunthu Banda said. Banda is also chairperson of the Parliamentary Service Commission, the body which, as we found out, was procedurally supposed to revive the investigation and collaborate with the police on the case.
When asked why his office could not know about the arrest of a senior official at Parliament, DPP Bruno Kalemba said: “Honestly, I am hearing this from you. I don’t know about this arrest.
“It is not true that my office is supposed to do that…As DPP, I act as lawyer for the law enforcement. Basically, I come in after police have done arrests. They don’t have to inform me about an impending arrest.”
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Ralph Kasambara could not be reached for comment on the arrest.