High Court Judge Joseph Chigona has set October 27 for determination of a case in which former Flames coach Ernest Mtawali sued Football Association of Malawi (FAM) for defamation.
Mtawali is claiming general and special damages over broadcast and published articles, in which FAM vice-president James Mwenda, as the body’s technical sub-committee chairperson, reportedly alleged that he was fired due to “lack of planning and managerial skills and, to some extent, discipline.”
Nevertheless, after Mtawali and Mwenda went through cross-examination during a hearing at the High Court in Blantyre yesterday, Chigona said he will finally come up with a verdict next month.
“Written submission by both parties should be made within 14 days before I make judgement on the matter 30 days later. This means the judgement will be made on October 27 at 2pm,” the judge said.
During cross-examination, Mwenda, who was accompanied by FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda, denied making the purported defamatory statement in the published article, arguing “I only told the journalists that the technical sub-committee recommended to FAM executive not to renew Mtawali’s contract”.
However, Mtawali’s lawyer Zwelithini Chipembere wondered why what was quoted in the article correlated with what was contained in the sub-committee’s recommendations that were presented to the executive committee after the article was published.
He also claimed that minutes that the defence team presented in the case as evidence could not be trusted as they lacked ownership due to the absence of signatures for any of the sub-committee members.
Mtawali, who was accompanied by fellow former Flames team-mate Chancy Gondwe, told the court that since the “defamatory” statements in articles were published in The Nation and Zodiak Online, he has lost a number of job opportunities in South Africa.
On the other hand, the defence team that included lawyers Patrick Mpaka and Michael Stenala Chisale, argued that the quoted statements “were not attributed to Mwenda”.
This was the first time that almost all individuals that are involved in the case were present at the hearing. Previously, the case was adjourned because defence witnesses FAM president Walter Nyamilandu and Mwenda were outside the country.
The case went into a full trial after the two parties failed to resolve the matter through mediation.