Lilongwe-based High Court Judge Ivy Kamanga, who granted bail to the 11 treason case suspects two weeks ago, has received threats over the weekend for releasing the 11 on bail.
Both the Judiciary and the National Police Headquarters in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, confirmed on Sunday about the threats issued.
Lawyers, who called The Nation on Sunday, indicated that Kamanga was in hiding after anonymous people telephoned her and warned her that they would raid her house for granting bail to the treason suspects.
Some sources speculated that the threats might have originated from sympathisers of the ruling People’s Party (PP) administration, angered by the release of the suspects.
But Information and Civic Education Minister Moses Kunkuyu distanced government from such acts.
Kamanga on March 14 granted bail to opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) acting president Peter Mutharika and 10 others, including interdicted chief secretary to the government Bright Msaka, arrested on various roles they played following the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika last April.
Judiciary spokesperson Mike Tembo said in a written response on Sunday: “It is true that Justice Kamanga has received anonymous threats relating to how she has handled the release on bail of suspects in the treason case she is currently handling.
“These anonymous threats are a sad development. Justice Kamanga, as a sitting judge, like all judges, is independent and cannot be influenced by any individual or authority in the execution of her constitutional duties.”
He said government is required to provide security for judges and that the Judiciary always works with security authorities in the Malawi Police Service on that aspect.
Tembo said: “We are already working with the security authorities to tighten security for Justice Kamanga specifically and also generally for Judges.”
National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo, in an interview on Sunday, said the Judiciary formally complained to police on Saturday about the threats Kamanga was receiving.
She said: “We are providing security to Justice Kamanga and we are investigating to find out the source of the threats.”
Kunkuyu, who distanced PP from the threats issued to Kamanga, argued the PP administration upholds the rule of law.
He said the fact that bail was granted to the treason suspects was evidence enough that the PP government respects the independence of the Judiciary and does not interfere.
The minister suggested that the threats on the judge might have originated from members of the opposition, particularly from those involved in the case, to cause confusion and paint a bad picture of PP.
He appealed to all politicians, from the ruling party and the opposition, to keep their hands off the case and let justice prevail.
Kunkuyu said: “If the courts exonerate them, let it be, if it finds them guilty and convicts them, we should be prepared to accept it as such.”
Kamanga on March 14 released Peter Mutharika and 10 others on bail, setting conditions, among them, that they should not comment on the case, most of them being politicians likely to get involved in addressing rallies.