Police in Lilongwe have re-arrested treason suspect and Nkhata Bay Central member of Parliament (MP) Symon Vuwa Kaunda for allegedly violating bail conditions set by High Court Judge Ivy Kamanga last Thursday.
Kaunda was re-arrested on Saturday night at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, as he was about to board a plane en route to Brussels, Belgium for the African, Caribbean Pacific (ACP)-European Union (EU) joint parliamentary assembly.
Among other bail conditions set by the judge, the 10 suspects, arrested in the aftermath of a commission of inquiry report into the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika, must inform regional police commissioners in their respective regions of residence before leaving Malawi.
But, according to National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo, Kaunda did not have permission to fly out.
She said: “As of now, all I can confirm is that he has been arrested because, as you remember, the court said if they want to leave their regions, they must inform the regional commissioners which he did not.”
‘Bail can be revoked’
Commenting on Kaunda’s situation, criminal law expert Sunduzwayo Madise based at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, on Sunday said jumping bail is not a criminal offence in itself. But he said the court can be moved to revoke one’s bail.
Said Madise: “In such circumstances, the court has jurisdiction to revoke the bail because that is a bond you sign with the court. But it is not a fresh criminal offence.”
In other words, he said, jumping bail is like disrespecting the court, but the court would always assess circumstances.
“If he was told to be seeking authority and he didn’t, you will obviously be arrested immediately and brought back to court,” added Madise.
The judge also ruled that each of the 11 suspected of plotting to usurp power from the then vice-president Joyce Banda, should pay a bond of K250 000 (about $694) in cash and present two sureties each bonded at K7 million (about $19 444) non-cash.
For Central Region based suspects, they were also asked to report to the National Police Headquarters every fortnight on Fridays for the next three months whereas those residing in the Northern, Eastern and Southern regions, should report to regional police chiefs.
Three Malawi MPs, including Kaunda, were meant to travel to Brussels for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which takes place twice a year.
National Assembly spokesperson Leonard Mengezi confirmed the trip, but said he did not have details of who else has travelled.
He said: “I know [the MPs] are travelling on parliamentary business, but I don’t have the details.”
But, according to our sources, the other two MPs are Stephen Aipila of Mangochi West and Edwin Banda of Nkhotakota Central.
The team is being led by Moffat Makande, a committee clerk, from Parliament Secretariat.
Our sources also said Kaunda was allegedly warned on Friday when he was seen in the corridors of Parliament Building at City Centre chasing his allowances.
Although he has been arrested, about K1 280 000 (about $3 555) in allowances was already credited to his bank account, said the sources.
“They [MPs] get $400 per day which if multiplied by the eight days they are expected to be there, should be well over a million,” said our source.
Kaunda and other suspects were released on bail Thursday after spending three days in police custody.
Arrested together with Kaunda were politicians Peter Mutharika, DPP acting president, and former ministers Jean Kalilani, Goodall Gondwe, Patricia Kaliati and Henry Mussa as well as former deputy ministers Kondwani Nankhumwa and Nicholas Dausi.
Also accused are interdicted top civil servant Bright Msaka and his former deputy Necton Mhura.