Private-practice lawyer Frank Mbeta has disclosed that he is prosecuting People’s Land Organisation (PLO) self-acclaimed leader Vincent Wandale and three others on behalf of government for free.
Mbeta said he was disappointed to get indirect accusations from some sympathisers of the accused persons when they were found with a case to answer at Blantyre Magistrates’ Court last week that he was crucifying them for money.
“But I wish they knew the truth. I am not getting any money from government for representing the State.
It was actually Paramount Ngolongoliwa who approached me to represent his people whom he felt were being defrauded,” Mbeta said.
Wandale was arrested in Lilongwe on April 21 after about 58 villagers from Thyolo complained to authorities that he and four other leaders collected money amounting to K3.7 million from them, promising to give them land.
Mbeta said as a citizen of Malawi, he felt duty bound to assist the complainants upon the request by the paramount chief, adding lawyers are allowed to represent people that cannot afford legal fees for free.
Paramount Ngolongoliwa in a separate interview admitted that he approached Mbeta for help him with free legal services because he considered it as a big case which Malawi Police Service (MPS) needed an extra hand.
Blantyre Principal Resident Magistrate Innocent Nebi recently found Wandale and three others with a case of fraud to answer.
Nebi also announced that the next hearing will take place in Thyolo to allow defence witnesses who are based there to testify in the case.
The State, through Mbeta, earlier said it was clear that money was paid to the accused as proven by the receipts that were presented.
In November 2016, Wandale was convicted and given an 18-month suspended sentence on three counts of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, unauthorised use of land and criminal trespass.
His arrest on September 3 in Lilongwe followed an incident that happened on September 1 at Conforzi Tea Estate where hundreds of villagers invaded the estate and started sharing land for permanent settlement and cultivation.
They claimed the land belonged to their forefathers.
He was released on November 8 after spending 10 months at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre on remand.