The High Court in Mzuzu has acquitted a magistrate who was arrested last December for sexual harassment allegations.
The magistrate Tobias Sibale, 52, who is based at Emcisweni Magistrate’s Court in Mzimba District, was charged with indecent assault of a female contrary to Section 137 (1) of the Penal Code. He denied the charge.
Sibale was accused of harassing Patricia Jere, a witness in one of the cases he was handling.
It was said that in the course of the proceedings, Jere wanted to have her case withdrawn arguing she had resolved that it should not proceed.
The magistrate’s court then discharged the case instead of acquitting Sibale, a development that forced Sibale’s lawyer George Kadzipatike to apply for a review of the lower court’s decision in the High Court.
Mzuzu-based High Court judge Dingiswayo Madise acquitted Sibale, arguing that the lower court misguided itself in discharging the matter without acquittal.
He said: “I see nothing wrong which could have prevented the lower court to exercise its powers under Section 249 Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code. I hereby review that order and proceed to make a finding of the acquittal.”
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Kadzipatike said he has written the Chief Justice to reinstate Sibale.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula yesterday said Sibale will be reinstated since he has been acquitted. He said the interdiction was meant to pave the way for investigations.
Sibale comes from Temwankhondo Village, T/A Wenya in Chitipa. n