Murder convict Misozi Chanthunya’s attempts to secure his freedom proved futile as a seven-member panel of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judges yesterday dismissed his application to overturn his conviction.
The panel, comprising Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and justices of appeal Lovemore Chikopa, Ivy Kamanga, Rezine Mzikamanda, Charles Mkandawire, Frank Kapanda and John Katsala, dismissed Chanthunya’s application in its entirety for lacking merit.
The Blantyre-based businessperson was given a life sentence by the High Court in Zomba in September last year for allegedly murdering his 25-year-old Zimbabwean girlfriend Linda Gasa in August 2010.
Apart from his murder conviction, Chanthunya appealed against his two-year sentence for the offence of hindering a dead body and another two-year sentence for perjury.
Through his lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta, he argued that he was jailed using bogus call logs.
He argued that the State had obtained the alleged fake call logs for undue intention to use in proceedings in the High Court.
During trial in the High Court, the State tendered three call logs from Airtel Malawi Limited for Chanthunya, the late Gasa and her relation Jessie Kachale.
But during yesterday’s hearing, Chipeta argued that the call logs presented in the lower court showed different time sequences; hence, did not form a strong basis of evidence that could have led to conviction of his client.
But the State through Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni argued that evidence that was used in convicting Chanthunya in the High Court proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty of murder.
He also argued that the call logs that were used as evidence were to the effect that any court would rely on and that the evidential value was overwhelming to convict someone.
The DPP further argued that Chanthunya lied under oath that he had dropped the late Gasa at Wenela Bus Depot in Blantyre on her way to Zimbabwe when, in fact, he was with her.
After hearing arguments from both the State and defence, the seven-member panel adjourned briefly for less than 15 minutes.
When the court reconvened, Chikopa delivered the ruling on behalf of fellow judges, dismissing the application in its entirety.
He ruled: “We have heard and considered arguments from both sides, and it is our unanimous decision to dismiss the application in its entirety.”
In an interview after the hearing, Chipeta said he will determine the way forward after reading the written ruling and consulting his client.
“I will wait for the written judgement so that my client and I can look at the reasons behind the ruling otherwise no reasons have been given as of today [yesterday],” he said.
In a separate interview, Kayuni expressed satisfaction with the outcome stressing that it is what the State expected.
Chanthunya was convicted of three offences of murder contrary to Section 209 of the Penal Code, smothering and hindering burial of a dead body contrary to Section 131 of the Penal Code and perjury.