High Court judge Esmie Chombo has recused herself from hearing a case involving fugitive murder suspect Misozi Chanthunya, alleging that she has received threats on her life related to the case.
The Lilongwe-based judge was yesterday due to preside over a bail application hearing for Chanthunya who is currently in South Africa where he has been in custody for close to six years following his arrest by authorities in that country.
But Judge Chombo wrote in the case file which The Nation has seen at the High Court Lilongwe registry she was no longer handling the matter.
She said: “I have been contacted by some people in South Africa on this matter who seem to have interest in the case. I, therefore, do not find it prudent to continue handling the matter. Please set the matter before another judge.”
The development yesterday left both the State and defence legal teams searching for answers on the nature of conversation the judge had with the callers as well as their identity.
Senior State advocate Dziko Malunda said in an interview that the case will be assigned to another judge following the recusal, but said the State was yet to be briefed on the details of the calls.
Chanthunya’s lawyer Donavan Silungwe said he had no details of the incident.
This is not the first time Chombo has recused herself from a high-profile case. She previously recused herself from presiding over the attempted murder of former Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
Chanthunya is accused of murdering his pregnant Zimbabwean girlfriend, Linda Gasa, seven years ago at his family’s private cottage in Monkey Bay, Mangochi , where the body was found entombed under concrete.
He was arrested by Interpol in Rustenburg, South Africa, on January 23 2012 after being on the run for 17 months.