Four individuals, have taken the Malawi Government to court, claiming compensation for false imprisonment for forging Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s alleged resignation letter in 2017.
The claimants are Cecilia Kumpukwe— sister to former president Joyce Banda, People’s Party (PP) spokesperson and Mzimba South East legislator Ackson Kalaile Banda, Stella Assani and Yesaya Mkwala.
The four were arrested separately in April and May 2017 after being accused of authoring a fake resignation letter purportedly from Chilima, who was serving under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration at the time.
The quartet is claiming general damages from government for unlawful a rrest , malicious prosecution, defamation and loss of business following their arrests and subsequent dismissal of their case.
Assani was accused of using her computer in authoring the fake resignation letter and forging Chilima’ s signature while the other three were accused of being part of the team that connived to write the said letter.
The four were granted bail in the case classified as Criminal Case No 839 of 2017, but the matter never went for full trial and fell through a year later because the State could not bring to court evidence to substantiate its claims.
The accused sued the State which later offered to settle the matter out of court, but the mediation did not materialise.
On two occasions— June 23 and July 28 2021—trial failed to commence at the High Cour t of Malawi in Blantyre until Tuesday when hearing started before Judge Dingiswayo Madise.
During the hearing, Kumpukwe, Kalaile Banda and Assani testified and were cross-examined by lawyer Lali Bonomali from the Attorney General’s Chambers. The fourth claimant, Mkwala, was not present and will instead testify on November 24 2021. Assani is being represented by Thembako Banda while Mwaiwawo Majawa is representing the other three claimants.
In an inter view after adjournment, Majawa said there was no reason to arrest the people when the State had no evidence because “everybody now thinks they are some kind of criminals”.
On his part, Banda said Mkwala will give his evidence on November 24 and thereafter the defence will parade its witnesses.
The four spent several days in police custody and were charged with making a false document contrary to Section 353 of the Penal Code and publishing false news likely to cause fear and alarm among members of the Republic of Malawi contrary to Section 60 (1) of the Penal Code.