The Blantyre Magistrate’s Court on Thursday reserved its bail ruling to Wednesday this week in a case where two female guardians are being accused of assaulting a nurse in the line of duty.
The two—Esnart Selemani, 53, and her daughter Yankho,30—allegedly assaulted the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) nurse, Gertrude Moffat, 26, in Ward 5A after she asked them to leave the ward due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The State was expected to parade its final three witnesses on Thursday before closing its case, having already paraded three other witnesses during the first hearing on Monday last week.
However, Legal Aid Bureau chief State advocate Rodgers Mpombeza, who is now representing the two accused women, applied for an adjournment of the case and for bail.
He asked the court to adjourn the case to go through the State’s disclosures, which senior resident magistrate Akya Mwanyongo granted.
On the bail application, Mpombeza argued that the two women have a right to be granted bail as per the Constitution; hence, the court needs to grant them the bail in accordance to their constitutional rights.
In an interview after the ruling, the chief State advocate said he was happy that the court agreed to adjourn the matter as that would guarantee his clients a right to a fair trial.
He said: “One of the applications [on adjournment] has been granted because looking at the time, the court has to strike a balance with the right to a fair trial. So, in order to effectively represent the accused persons, we need to be given time to prepare the case.”
Police prosecutor Isaac Kadawayula did not object to the applications made by Mpombeza on the part of the State.
During the first hearing when the first three witnesses were paraded, Kadawayula asked the court to impose bail conditions on the basis that normally, police bail has no sanctions.
However, Mwanyongo wondered why the two women, who at the time were not being represented by a lawyer, were granted bail when the case is sensitive. He revoked their bail on the basis that they should be attending court proceedings while in custody.
During the first hearing, QECH chief nursing officer in the surgical department, Edna Nkangala, and Bright Mwafulirwa, a doctor at the facility’s Ward 5A and Moffat herself, testified before the court.
In her testimony, Moffat, who was the first State witness, alleged that the two women on February 17 this year assaulted her because they were offended when she told them to leave the ward on the basis that they were putting lives of both patients and guardians at risk of contracting Covid-19.
Moffat, who alleged that the women tore her nurses gown in the process, said she was rescued by fellow nurses, doctors and some guardians.
On her part, Mwafulirwa told the court that at the time of rescuing Moffat, one of the women had squeezed her neck on an empty bed while the other was pulling her hair.
While corroborating Mwafulirwa’s narration, Nkangala told the court that the two women further turned down a suggestion to report the matter to the hospital ombudsman.