High Court upholds Chaponda’s acquittal

Written by  MBC Online

The High Court in Zomba has sustained an acquittal of former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda in a corruption-related case regarding maize purchase from Zambia in 2016.

Chaponda: Walks to freedom Chaponda: Walks to freedom

This follows an appeal by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) against the 2018 Zomba Magistrate’s Court verdict that set Chaponda free. In his ruling, Judge Redson Kapindu dismissed the appeal, arguing that ACB failed to prove its case.

Judge Dr Redson Kapindu in his ruling on Tuesday upheld the judgement by Zomba chief resident magistrate Paul Chiotcha who acquitted Chaponda on May 18 2018, after quashing all evidence presented by the graft-busting body in support of the counts, arguing they lacked elements of corruption.

In his ruling, justice Kapindu said ACB’s grounds of appeal were “not valid.”

He also pointed out that the [prosecution failed to prove that Chaponda gave ACB false information.

This corruption-related case involved the procurement of maize from Zambia in 2016— allegations which cost Chaponda his ministerial position and political popularity.

Chaponda, who is legislator for Mulanje South West, was arrested on July 19 2017 on his alleged role in the controversial procurement of maize from Zambia.

He was answering to three charges of giving false information to ACB, possession of foreign currency and attempting to obtain an advantage by instructing former Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe to offer a contract to Transglobe Produce Export Limited, but the State only appealed against the first two counts.

Justice Kapindu also said ACB  failed to prove that the foreign currency was connected to Maizegate.

Speaking to MBC, lawyer representing Chaponda in the case Tamando Chokhoto said he was very pleased with the outcome of the case.

Said Chokhoto: “We had raised preliminary issues that the appeal was not properly filed and was, therefore, not a competent appeal and the court has agreed with us such the court could have dismissed the appeal without looking at the merit but it went into the merit aswell for the sake of public interest the matter had developed.”

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