Details have emerged of a racket masterminded by some court clerks in the Judiciary who allegedly issue forged court orders, especially in cases where they have an interest, in the process duping and frustrating some people seeking justice.
Information The Nation has gathered indicates that some court clerks ask for money from court users who have lost their cases and issue fake court orders to purportedly reverse the outcome.
For instance, in February 2016 the Blantyre Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court heard a case of McDonald Makwangwala (the applicant) against Allan Masuwa, Modester Tembo and Steve Ranken (as respondents) who were accused of encroaching his plot in Blantyre’s Chilomoni Township.
While the court officially ruled in Makwangwala’s favour and asked all parties to observe the boundary and that the defendants should stop any construction works on the plaintiff’s property, one court clerk approached the defendants that he would assist them to win the case.
True to the clerk’s word, on February 5 this year, Makwangala had a rude awakening when he received a ‘court order’ albeit without indicating case number and the magistrate who issued it, stopping him from visiting the land which he purchased.
A suspicious Makwangwala reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which, according to a letter dated February 14 2018, asked the registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal to assist him.
Reads the ACB letter in part: “Kindly assist the complainant who is alleging that court clerk Joe Chimbalanga of Blantyre Magistrate Court has fraudulently issued an interlocutory order purporting to restrain the bearer, Mr. MacDonald Makwangala, from visiting his own land. The said order does not indicate the case as well as the name of the magistrate who issued it and also signed for it.”
Yesterday, ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala said the High Court was better placed to comment as the bureau only wrote the institution to look into the issue.
She said: “Where there are general issues like those, sometimes action that can be filed is to refer to the institutions. Then the institution has to take action now and find out want is happening.”
High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agnes Patemba yesterday said she has heard about similar complaints but said she treated them as rumours.
She asked for more time to follow up on the cases.
In December last year, our sister newspaper Nation on Sunday busted a search warrant racket involving some court clerks who were processing documents behind the magistrate’s back at a fee of K3 000.
In a special report series, Nation Publications Limited (NPL) products—The Nation, Weekend Nation and Nation on Sunday—last year also exposed syndicates that produced counterfeit motor vehicle certificates of fitness and ownership certificates at the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services. Besides, there have also been exposures of dubious deals at the Immigration Department and other government agencies.