After operating under a veil of secrecy for a few weeks, the country’s anti-graft institution has finally moved in to make the first arrest in relation to the alleged bribery case targeted at judges assigned to the presidential elections case.
The arrest of business magnet and owner of the FDH Bank Thom Mpinganjira filtered in through social media platforms late morning today Wednesday, instantly drawing crowds to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) offices in Blantyre.
Malawi Defense Force (MDF) soldiers were urgently called in to secure the premises as crowds of curious Malawians swelled while the suspect, Mpinganjira, spent the better part of the day being grilled by the ACB investigators in relation to his alleged links to the scheme to bribe judges assigned to the case.
As he was taken to Blantyre Police Station later on – for further processes – some people that had gathered outside the ACB chanted demeaning songs as the heavily armed vehicle carrying him passed by.
Insiders have hinted he will spend the night in the cooler.
Mpinganjira is the first to be named of two people identified in a rather cryptic manner by the anti-graft body the other tentatively being identified as ‘a senior official from one of the three arms of the government’.
A suspected sympathizer of the governing DPP, Mpinganjira is suspected to have played a role in allegedly approaching the judges to go soft on an undisclosed party to the presidential election case.
During a recent media briefing, ACB Director Reyneck Matemba did allude to the fact that the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda could have chosen to institute a “disciplinary hearing before reporting the matter to the ACB”, a remark that culminated into an insinuation that the other suspect could be from the judiciary, also being an arm of the government.
The arrest came a few hours after the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), led by Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence as Chairperson and vice respectively, had extended a grace period to the ACB to act within a week or risk a shutdown.
The ACB Director had, a day prior, reiterated that the Bureau would operate under the dictates of the law and not whims of stakeholders.
Five judges who were approached with the alleged bribe are currently out writing the judgement which is due in two weeks time.
According to the ACB, the case will be taken to court once preliminary processes are concluded.