The Senior Resident Magistrate Court in Lilongwe has discharged Allan Mwabumba and Alefa Mtandasha from charges of forgery, fraud, and theft following the State’s failure to prosecute the accused in five years.
Mwabumba and Mtandasha were arrested in May 2018 on suspicion that while working as officers of Mchinji District Council they committed a felony and conspired to embezzle government money contrary to Section 404 of the Penal Code.
The two were released on bail on 7 May 2018 and pleaded not guilty to charges levelled against them. On 20 November 2018, a State witness, Mchinji District Commissioner (DC) was paraded and since then, there has been no progress on the matter.
In September 2022, the DC wrote the Officer-in-Charge of Mchinji Police Station advising him of his desire to withdraw the case against the applicants. As Mwabumba and Mtandasha had been reporting for bail since 2018, they applied through Malawi Legal Aid Bureau to have their case discharged. They were represented in Court by Principal Legal Aid Advocate Emily Kusani.
Counsel argued that the two need to be discharged because the State has not brought the case to be heard even when the accused persons have been obediently honoring their bail conditions.
Senior Resident Magistrate, Wanangwa Nyirenda pointed out that from the time his Court got hold of the matter, no party has ever filed a notice of further hearing to necessitate the assignment of a date for it to be heard. The first sign of movement according to Nyirenda was in March 2023 when Legal Aid Bureau sought for a discharge.
On two occasions when the matter was set down for hearing after the Bureau applied for a discharge, the State showed unwillingness to proceed with the case. The Court, therefore discharged Mwabumba and Mtandasha of the charges.
The discharge will be for 12 months. If there is no movement on the part of the State within the period, the two shall be acquitted.