Looking calm with his Bible clasped in hand, former president Peter Mutharika’s head of security Norman Chisale leaped onto an unregistered Malawi Police Service Landcruiser at 11.10am to head back to Chichiri Prison.
This was after the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court ordered Chisale to spend seven more days on remand pending his attempted murder case to be committed to the High Court for trial.
However, just an hour after the lower court’s directive, Chisale’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe successfully filed an application for bail in the High Court under Section 42(2)(e) of the Constitution, whose hearing has since been scheduled for tomorrow.
Chisale was picked by police last Friday in Lilongwe in connection with a shooting incident of Sigele Kaipa,35, at Chimwankhunda Dam in Blantyre in May this year.
His arrest came moments after being granted bail by the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court in another criminal case relating to his involvement in the transaction of cement importation worth over K5 billion.
But yesterday the State told chief resident magistrate Simeon Mdeza that the accused was brought before the court to know his alleged offence and not for committal to High Court for trial. Thus, the State also applied for his continued lock up.
This did not please Gondwe, who described the State’s application as tactics to indefinitely keep his client in custody and a resurgence of detention without trial.
He argued: “That is at variance with Section 42(2)(e) of the Constitution… We should not revert to pre-1994 constitutional order. It is archaic, undemocratic and not sustainable in an open society like ours. Bail is a constitutional right and the State must give reasons why he should be remanded without being committed to the High Court.”
Chisale’s lawyer also argued that if the State had brought the accused to apply for remand, the magistrate’s court was still within the jurisdiction to either grant the application for remand or not.
But in his brief submission, prosecutor Bright Sanudi said the State was not ready for a legal battle in a court that had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
He said: “The Constitution provides that any accused person be brought before the court within 48 hours and the State has brought him and to apply for further remand pending his committal to the High Court for trial. The Director of Public Prosecution [DPP] will be ready anytime within the week with certificate of committal for the suspect.”
Mdeza then proceeded to send Chisale on seven-day remand and further ordered the DPP to issue a certificate of his committal to the High Court within the period failing which the remand will be reconsidered.
Throughout the proceedings that lasted about 35 minutes Chisale remained composed and focused. Less than 30 people, including security personnel, counsels, media and sympathisers attended the court session as part of Covid-19 control measures.
Over 50 armed and plain-clothed police officers who arrived in five vehicles provided heavy security within and outside the court grounds that had a handful of Chisale and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sympathisers.
During his appearance at Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court last week, DPP sympathisers attacked journalists for taking pictures and videos of Chisale.
Gondwe apologised to media institutions and disowned the actions of the party supporters, saying they did not represent his client’s wishes.