Malawi Government has engaged private practice lawyers to prosecute former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) interim leader Peter Mutharika and 11 others arrested in connection to the death of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika and subsequent transfer of power.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Bruno Kalemba, in an interview on Thursday, confirmed the appointment of private lawyers.
He said his office hired the lawyers because it is overwhelmed as it is currently handling several high-profile cases, including that of the late Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa, who was found dead on campus in September 2011, and other homicide cases.
Kalemba also cited the treason case of former vice-president Cassim Chilumpha and Yusuf Matumula who face two charges of plotting to assassinate the late Mutharika as the other case his office is occupied with.
He said: “These cases have put a strain on our human resource capacity. In response to this human resource constraint, the directorate has engaged private lawyers to supplement directorate lawyers who are prosecuting this matter to ensure that this case is dealt with with the speed it deserves.”
He declined to name the full composition of the prosecution team, saying it would be announced in due course.
But The Nation established that the prosecuting team includes Apoche Itimu from the Ministry of Justice, former DPP during the Mutharika regime Ishmael Wadi and lawyers Ralph Mhone and Lughani Mautwa.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) is on record to have condemned the hiring of foreign lawyers by previous administrations of UDF and DPP when the country had competent local lawyers.
But on Wednesday, MLS secretary Felisah Kilembe said it welcomed the hiring of local lawyers, saying it shows that the government recognises that among the members of the MLS, there are experienced and capable lawyers who can ably prosecute such cases.