The High Court of Malawi has moved from Lilongwe to the Blantyre registry a sexual harassment and abuse of office case against Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) former director general Aubrey Sumbuleta.
The court’s decision followed an application by Sumbuleta, through his lawyer David Kanyenda, to have the case heard in Blantyre because that is where the alleged offences were committed.
Delivering his ruling in Lilongwe on Friday, High Court Judge Redson Kapindu noted that the matter should have first been brought before the subordinate court nearest to where the offences were allegedly committed.
He said: “In view of the foregoing findings and conclusions by this court, the applicant’s application for change of venue in the present matter must succeed.
“I, therefore, order that the trial of the matter herein be moved from the High Court of Malawi, Lilongwe District Registry, Criminal Division, to the High Court of Malawi, Principal Registry, Criminal Division.”
Kapindu also said he did not find it appropriate, convenient or in the interest of justice for him to continue hearing the matter in Lilongwe when there is a fully fledged Criminal Division of the High Court in Blantyre. He said the case will, thus, be assigned another judge.
In making the application, Sumbuleta argued, among others, that two of the three complainants in the case are based in Blantyre and that about half of the witnesses are also based in Blantyre.
He also argued that trying him in Lilongwe was causing severe strain on his financial resources and that the court must consider that because he is currently not employed.
But the State, through Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni, objected to the application, saying moving the case to Blantyre would substantially drain the resources of the State for the legal team and those supporting them.
Sumbuleta was arrested after the Malawi Human Rights Commission carried out investigations into alleged reports of sexual harassment of female employees.