The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court has granted Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary their wish to have South African witnesses brought before Malawi court to sign under oath and to be questioned by the defence.
Senior resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa made the ruling on Monday following the Bushiris’ application through their lawyers that Article 9 of the extradition case requires that the accused ask the witnesses questions in court.
The senior resident magistrate said the State did not follow the law by relying on affidavits sent from South Africa instead of interviewing the witnesses to assess the evidence.
He said: “The State should ensure that it interviews witnesses from South Africa and those witnesses must appear in court in Malawi to sign under oath and be questioned by the defence.”
According to Chirwa, the State also violated the Bushiris’ rights by not reading out the charges to them.
Before the ruling, the Bushiris’ lead lawyer Wapona Kita informed the court that the couple would not be present in court as they had lost a child and were in grief.
In an interview after the ruling, Kita said he was happy with the court’s stand on the matter, but said he had made a fresh application to have the whole case discontinued.
“Our argument is that the South African protocol on extradition, which the State is using, is not institutionalised in Malawi as such it cannot be used in Malawi courts,” he said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni, said the State is ready to argue against the fresh application in court.
Meanwhile, the court has said the case will resume on April 19 2021 to give the Bushiris time to mourn their daughter who died in Kenya.
The South African Government wants the two extradited to answer charges of fraud and money laundering after they skipped bail and fled South Africa last November.