By Mzati Nkolokosa
Life has a way of bringing happiness to our hearts in time of mourning.
The Malawi Police arrested me on 18 April, 2020. I spent five nights in police custody, two nights in Blantyre, three nights in Lilongwe.
I appeared in court on Wednesday, 21 April. The state told the court that I was suspected to have stolen a little over K14 million. These were allowances paid to Ministry of Information staff in districts. Government pays all allowances into staff accounts. How could I steal such money?
After nine months of playing in court, the state withdrew the matter today. I had not yet taken plea, so I was discharged. Why did the state withdraw the matter? There was no crime. Not even intention of crime.
But that is not all. The state brought another charge. The charge sheet read as follows:
“Mzati Nkolokosa during the month of February, 2021, at DODMA Head Office in the City of Lilongwe, by virtue of your employment as Director of Information, charged with controlling fuel funds meant for Covid – 19 fight had in your possession fuel worthy MK7,650,080.00 loaded in Petroda Malawi card number 3372 and negligently failed to account on how the same was used.”
“Do you understand the charge,” asked the senior magistrate. “No. I don’t,” I said. “Please explain,” said the magistrate.
“I was employed by Malawi from 1 December 2019. My contract was terminated on 22 September 2020,” I told the court. “I, therefore, don’t understand how I was Director of information in February 2021.”
At that point, my legal counsel, Tamando Chokotho, produced copy of a letter of termination of my contract. I could read àchaos on the faces of the prosecution team. The magistrate asked the state to respond.
According to our records, the accused was Director of Information in February 2021, said the prosecutor. “But the accused has produced documentary evidence of his employment,” said the senior magistrate. “Then we need to go back, to investigate,” said the prosecutor.
So, these were the proceedings in court today. Nine months of being accused of crimes that do not exist. Nine months of being under police custody. Nine months of walking with the label of a thief.
In the book I am writing, titled “Crocodiles Are Still Hungry,” the events of today shall form two chapters. Perhaps three. I know the crocodiles will cook up another case against me, but I am not worried. I did no wrong.
I shall appear in court again later in the month. But the state is confused. I don’t know what information they shall bring in court? Change date of crime? Hahaha!
God has a way of confusing the enemy. Life, too, has a way of bringing happiness at a time of mourning. My dad died this morning, peacefully in his sleep. When I got the news at 5 am, I made up my mind to still appear before the court. Perhaps it was for this happiness.
I got my freedom on the day my father died. The state was confused on the day my father died.