The Judiciary has suspended Zomba-third grade Magistrate Maxford Gandali for allegedly demanding money from court users.
The magistrate’s indefinite suspension follows several verbal and written warnings he had been receiving as a result of official complaints lodged by court users against him.
A suspension letter signed by Judiciary’s controller of human resources Evans Lora on behalf of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal registrar says Gandali has been suspended awaiting a final decision from the Judicial Service Commission.
Reads part of the letter: “Following allegations from your Chief Resident Magistrate [CRM] East that you solicit money from court clients, I write to suspend you from exercising your duties and functions of your office as third grade magistrate.”
According to CRM East Agness Patemba, she has on several times summoned and verbally warned Gandali about his “unbecoming behaviour of soliciting money from court users” before officially writing him a warning letter.
“You have not changed your behaviour despite making a commitment to change… This letter serves as a serious warning against your behaviour. Unless you change, stern measures will be taken against you,” reads Patemba’s warning letter to Gandali dated April 27 2016, which The Nation has seen.
Before the suspension, the CRM East also complained to the registrar that despite warning the magistrate, her office continues to receive queries from court users about Gandali’s conduct of soliciting bribes.
Within one year, the CRM East has transferred Gandali to three different courts, but reports of his demanding bribes from court clients have not ceased, according to the Judiciary.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula yesterday confirmed the suspension, saying currently they are waiting for the Judicial Service Commission to provide direction on the matter.
“If the commission says he has a case to answer then he will be interdicted. At the moment, he is still reporting for work, but not handling any court cases.
“But, as Judiciary, we believe in preserving our dignity and integrity, we don’t condone any mischievous deeds from any judicial officer,” said Mvula.
When contacted whether the matter had been reported to her office, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) spokesperson Egrita Ndala said she needed more time to find out.
Gandali has been with the Judiciary since November 2009 when he was appointed as third grade magistrate.