United Democratic Front (UDF) publicity secretary Ken Ndanga and co-accused Hassan Kassim have been charged with three counts of murder in connection with the death of three members of the Tambala family following a UTM Party offices arson in May.
Senior resident magistrate Florence Msekandiana committed the case to the High Court for trial after briefly reading the charges against the two accused persons.
The three counts include the murder of Ajussa Tambala, the murder of Alice Tambala and the murder of Shakura Tambala, all members of the same family.
The charges said both Ndanga and Kassim were responsible for the deaths but fell short of detailing their level of involvement, which is normally expected to be contained in the formal charges to be pronounced when the trial begins in the High Court.
Ndanga, wearing a black suit and read necktie, entered the court wearing a hood, a mask and a pair glasses. He listened attentively to the charges before existing the court, once again wearing the head gear and glasses. His co-accused Kassim asked the court to read the charges in vernacular Chichewa language.
No senior UDF officials were seen at the court during the hearing.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) director of youth Dyton Mussa, who was arrested in connection with the same arson, has applied to the High Court for his immediate release on bail after the State failed to charge him alongside Ndanga, his lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa said yesterday.
Said the lawyer: “Our client’s position and desire is to be released unconditionally. His argument is that the real culprits have been apprehended and are presently in custody. He, therefore, he sees no legal justification for his continued detention.”
After the Covid-19 pandemic forced courts in Lilongwe to postpone hearings last week, Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court was a beehive of activity with several cases of former members of the ousted DPP administration and associates taking centre-stage.
The three members of the Tambala family, who were residing inside the UTM Party offices in Lilongwe’s Area 24, died within hours and days of the arson attack on May 4 amid a surge in violence in the run-up to the June 23 presidential election re-run.
Police did not make any arrests until the change of government following DPP’s loss of the election to Tonse Alliance and subsequent changes in the leadership of the Malawi Police Service.