Monday, March 10, 2014

Chirwa pleads not guilty to abuse of office
By Namatama Mundia
Fri 06 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT

PROFESSOR Clive Chirwa yesterday appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates' Court and pleaded not guilty to failure to disclose interest and abuse of authority of office charges.

And Lusaka principal resident magistrate Obbister Musukwa yesterday dismissed an application by former Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) chief executive officer Prof Chirwa's co-accused Regina Mwale that she should be tried in Kabwe, saying he had jurisdiction to try the matter.
This is in a case where Prof Chirwa, 58, of plot 206/101, Ibex Hill, an academician, is in the first count charged with failure to disclose interest contrary to the Laws of Zambia.

Prof Chirwa is in the second and third count jointly charged with Mwale, 50, an accountant of High Ridge in Kabwe and ZRL finance director for abuse of authority of office, after the duo allegedly authorised payment of K72,282,210 to Fallsway Apartments for the former's accommodation, an amount which was beyond the professors entitlement, an act which is arbitrary and prejudicial to the rights and interests of the government of Zambia.

When the matter came up, Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) senior legal and prosecutions officer Silumesi Muchula told the court that the matter was coming up for plea and he was ready to proceed.

But one of the defence lawyers Mulilo Kabesha said he was not ready as he had just been served with the indictment but Muchula insisted that he served the defence on time, a situation which prompted magistrate Musukwa to order that the parties retire to his chambers.

When they emerged from the chambers, magistrate Musukwa told Prof Chirwa that in the first count, it was alleged that on dates unknown but between November 1, and December 31, 2012, in Lusaka, being a public officer as CEO at ZRL, the accused recommended at a ZRL board meeting that Clavel Incorporated Limited, a company in which he was an officer and shareholder, be given a contract to train Zambia Railways employees without disclosing interest.

Asked if he understood the charge, Prof Chirwa responded in the affirmative but denied committing the offence.

After magistrate Musukwa read out the two counts of abuse of authority of office, Kabesha, who is representing Mwale, said he had preliminary issues.

Kabesha said the accused were alleged to have committed the offences in Kabwe and and that the court with jurisdiction on the two counts was the Kabwe court.

"We are aware that it's not mandatory; this court can hear it but for the sake of convenience to the accused persons, especially A2 (Mwale), it's our prayer that this court invokes section 77 of the CPC Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia and transfer the trial of the two counts to Kabwe," he said.

Prof Chirwa's lawyers from Simeza Sangwa and Associates were not party to the application.

Muchula submitted that the preliminary issue raised by Kabesha as regards jurisdiction of the matter was based on convenience only, adding that it was not supported by section 69 of the CPC.

"Section 69 of the CPC not only tries to replace where the offence was committed but also applies to the jurisdiction of where the accused was apprehended. The two accused persons were apprehended in Lusaka on 22nd November, 2013. The accused persons are amenable to this court," he said.

Muchula said the application of transferring of the matter was misplaced as it was supposed to be made in the High Court.

Ruling on the matter, magistrate Musukwa said he was guided by section 69, which he said was instructive.

He said his court had jurisdiction to try the mater as the accused were apprehended in Lusaka.

Magistrate Musukwa dismissed Kabesha's application and ordered that the accused take plea in the two counts of abuse of authority.

And Prof Chirwa and Mwale denied abusing the authority of their offences.

The second and third counts allege that the accused persons authorised the payment to Fallsway Apartments on unknown dates but between February 1 and March 2, 2013 in Kabwe.

Magistrate Musukwa adjourned the matter to January 15, 2014 for commencement of trial and extended the accused persons' police bonds.

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