The High Court in Lilongwe has adjourned to August 30 a case where former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Raphael Kasambara and two others are expected to make oral submissions on sentencing.
Kasambara, former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Macdonald Kumwembe and businessperson Pika Manondo were found guilty of conspirancy to murder former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo during the shooting on September 13 2013 outside Mphwiyo’s Area 43 residence in Lilongwe.
Blantyre-based presiding High Court Judge Michael Mtambo also found Manondo and Kumwembe guilty of attempting to murder Mphwiyo in his judgement delivered in the High Court in Lilongwe on July 21 this year.
Yesterday, the judge set August 30 as the date when the convicts would present their mitigations.
But when they appeared before the court yesterday, just a few minutes before 11am, Kasambara pleaded with the court to adjourn the case, saying he had just hired a lawyer, Lusungu Gondwe, to represent him in the matter.
This was a new development as Kasambara, a senior counsel (SC) and former Attorney General, represented himself throughout the trial that lasted nearly two years.
Kasambara said yesterday his counsel would need some time to prepare the submissions.
Gondwe also told the court that while travelling from Blantyre, he was involved in a “terrible accident”, with one passenger sustaining injuries and being rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH).
On their part, both Kumwembe and Manondo—who are representing themselves—said they were not aware that they would be making oral submissions on sentencing on this particular day, as the State had not informed them about this.
They further told the court that they wanted to apply for bail, pending an appeal, and that they were drafting submissions in relation to this bail.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale said it was not true that the State did not inform the convicts about the date for oral submissions. She said the court clerks had informed the two about the date.
But Kachale said the State would not object to the application for adjournment, emphasising that the convicts retain the right to get fair judgement at the end of the day.
Before adjourning the case, Mtambo gave the defence up to Thursday this week to file and serve the other parties with documents in relation to the bail application.