Private practice lawyer David Kanyenda was yesterday released on bail by the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court following his arrest on Wednesday afternoon for allegedly misappropriating a client’s funds.
His fellow lawyer Chancy Gondwe, who represented him in the bail application, confirmed in an interview that Kanyenda was granted bail yesterday after spending a night in police custody.
“But for the rest of the issues, I have not been given the right to say anything as to what they are all about,” he said.
In a separate interview earlier yesterday, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the arrest of Kanyenda.
He said: “Yes, I can confirm that he was arrested yesterday [Wednesday] afternoon, but at the moment I cannot provide any further information. That will be done at an appropriate time because presently investigations are still being carried out and we don’t want to expose anything.”
However, a source privy to the probe told The Nation that the Blantyre-based lawyer was arrested by Fiscal Police soon after landing at Chileka Airport in relation to K4 million client’s money.
Commenting on the issue, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president Mwiza Nkhata said lawyers are also subjected to the same laws of the land when they commit a crime.
“We are not above the law as lawyers. If the police or the bureau [Anti-Corruption Bureau] feel we have infringed the law they can investigate us and if the court believe them they will convict us.
“As Law Society, we exist to maintain discipline over our members but that is not substitute for criminal law. There are certain matters that are not covered by discipline the society can resolve so where such matters arise there are other institutions to handle,” he said.
The lawyer’s arrest comes barely two months after he was also apprehended on allegations of swindling about K5.8 million out of a Blantyre-based client Wisted Chaweka. He was later released after paying back the money.
The legal practitioner received the money in 2014 on behalf of his client as compensation for a 2013 road accident he was involved in.
In the recent past, the behaviour of some lawyers in recent past has come under scrutiny following a number of complaints lodged with MLS.
Commenting on the conduct of the lawyers, Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs chairperson Maxwell Thyolera said it was unfortunate that the number of errant lawyers was rising.
“The reason is that penalties and disciplinary mechanisms are not watertight to prevent them from embezzling clients’ money. But that will soon be stopped once the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Bill is passed into law,” he said.