The High Court in Blantyre has dropped charges against three of the five remaining suspects in the ongoing murder case of police officer Patrick Mvula during the December 2014 armed robbery at First Merchant Bank (FMB) in Blantyre.
The three—Ketson Mbewe (46) and Masauko Gulayi (40) arrested in December 2014 and Abel Chigwandala, 35, (arrested in July 2015)—have been discharged because the State failed to provide evidence against them.
But Chigwandala’s release comes barely two weeks after High Court Judge Dorothy nyaKaunda Kamanga denied him bail alongside his colleague Thomson Kamwendo.
Private practice lawyer Wanangwa Hara, representing Mbewe and Gulayi, said yesterday the court dropped the trio from the case after the State indicated it was not ready to proceed with their case. Chigwandala was being represented by another private practice lawyer, Michael Goba Chipeta.
Said Hara: “The case came before the court on December 7 for further direction pertaining to trial, but the State made an application to the court to discharge my clients from the matter because it said it was not ready with the case. So, the court ordered that they be discharged.”
Earlier, senior State advocate Andrew Salamba indicated that should the State fail to secure valuable evidence at the hearing date it would discontinue the case against the three.
This means that only two suspects—Felix Matope (35) and Kamwendo (30)—remain in the case.
However, Hara said they had already launched notice of appeal to the court to bail the two, but are yet to file witness statement and their intended defence.
The accused were arrested for allegedly killing Mvula during an estimated K112 million ($187,095) heist at FMB head office branch in Livingstone Towers in Blantyre on December 23 2014. n