By George Mponda – Mana

State lawyers have amended charges in an ongoing case in which former President, Peter Mutharika’s step son, Tadikira Mafudza and four others are being accused of involvement in the deaths of 30 unknown Ethiopian nationals.

Mafudza and his four co-accused were initially charged with murder, however, their charge sheet has been amended to six counts of manslaughter and six counts of aggravated human trafficking each.

Mafudza and the four others who include; Samuel Navaya, Duncan Kalulu, David Luhanga, Thomas Kazembe and Bornface Ngulube pleaded not guilty to all the new charges when they appeared before High Court Judge, Gladys Gondwe in Mzuzu on Thursday.

Before the suspects took plea, defence lawyer Chikumbutso Mkwamba argued that the new charges especially on human trafficking lacked sufficient particulars to enable them put up proper defence.

“The human trafficking counts lack sufficient particulars because the charges don’t speak of the elements involved in human trafficking so we want the court to quash them and we proceed with the manslaughter counts,” he argued.

However, State lawyer, Waliko Nkosi said the evidence which they have would reflect on the charges hence proceedings would not be affected.

“Thesstate should be given time to include the details which the defence thinks are lacking instead of quashing the charges because we are ready to bring forth evidence in connection with all counts,” he said.

In her ruling, Judge Gondwe sided with state saying the amended charge sheet has glaring differences from the initial one hence the court would proceed with the case.

“Although it is regrettable that the defence was not served with the disclosures on time, it is inconsequential because the court holds the view that the counts are not embarrassing to the suspects so the case will proceed,” she said.

Gondwe then went on to grant bail to Duncan Kalulu, Thomas Kazembe, Bornface Ngulube and David Luhanga who have been in custody since their arrest in September, 2023.

They have since been ordered to pay a bond of K1 million each, produce two traceable and reliable biological sureties bonded at K3million non cash, surrender travel documents and they should report to the northern region police headquarters every fortnight on Thursdays.

The Ethiopian nationals who were found buried in a mass grave in Mtangatanga forest in Mzimba in September, last year.

Hearing of the case will continue on June 24, 2023.


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