Twists and turns in Mphwiyo case

Written by  Sam Phiri

More drama is unfolding in the ongoing case of attempted murder of Malawi’s former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo leaving the state with no option but to use an audio affidavit recorded from state key witness Charles Chalunda.

Paul Mphwiyo (in blue suit) after appearing before court earlier Paul Mphwiyo (in blue suit) after appearing before court earlier
09
April

Chalunda on wedsday completely withdrew his earlier written affidavits and any evidence he told investigators.


The State witness, who was brought to Lilongwe High Court on Wednesday following a subpoena, is denying every statement he made to police investigators and in court as he sees no point to testify to a case which he has been charged and convicted of perjury.


The man, who is crucial in the ongoing case of attempted murder on 13 September, 2013, has also denied any knowledge of five suspects being accused of plotting to kill Mphwiyo.


This is contrary to what his earlier confession to police investigators that he together with McDonald Kumwembe had to travel all the way from Blantyre to Lilongwe on a robbery mission, but everything changed when they met Oswald Lutepo at Bwandilo market in area 47 in Lilongwe who instructed them to shoot to kill a man named Paul Mphwiyo.


His affidavit taken that time, also indicated that after being shown Mphwiyo`s picture, and later taken to see his house in Area 43 as well as places he frequented, they failed to execute the mission.


"After pulling out from the mission, a few weeks later we heard that Paul Mphwiyo had been shot," said Chalunda in the affidavit.


But in a twist of events, the man withdrew the affidavit saying he lied under oath.


He also changed his statement by saying that the man whom he met at Bwandilo was not Lutepo but rather Pika Manondo, a development that led to his conviction and subsequently being charged of perjury by the magistrate court in Zomba.


And on Wednesday, the highly charged Chalunda, who while in the dock denied to take an oath, said he could not continue making testimony in a case which has already landed him perjury charges.
He also said he was surprised why the state had to take him from Blantyre to Lilongwe under the escort of armed police officers.


It took suspension of the court proceedings for almost 10 minutes and other interventions to make him calm and later accept to take the oath.


But despite taking the oath, Chalunda denied everything that Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mary Kachale asked him of his knowledge of prior plans and persons in the shooting of Mphwiyo as earlier stated in his affidavit.


Chalunda’s apparent unfriendly mood and responses during cross examination prompted Kachale to make a request to Justice Michael Mtambo to declare the witness as ‘Hostile Witness’.
Although the witness managed to answer some questions, he maintained his stand that whatever he said and signed for in the affidavits were lies.

Following this development the DPP has therefore sought other means of presenting his testimony. The state has therefore this morning brought to court an audio affidavit which Chalunda had explained all what had happened pertaining to the shooting of Mphwiyo and intimidation being made by some of the defendants.


Chalunda is one of the state witnesses who also raised an alarm to the investigators claiming that his life is in danger as some of the accused persons are intimidating him and had asked for police protection and a transfer to a safe place in Mangochi.

His claim led the state to make a request though not successful but was asking Justice Michael Mtambo to revoke bail for all five accused persons.
Such fears also prompted government to deploy more than 10 armed police officers at the High Court premises every time the case is convened to protect the witnesses.
Trial continues today at the Lilongwe high court.

 

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