The High Court in Zomba on Tuesday further adjourned to May 6 hearing of a case against suspects in the murder of Mac Donald Masambuka, a person with albinism killed in Machinga last year.
When the court reconvened yesterday, presiding judge Zione Ntaba reluctantly adjourned the matter to allow Catholic priest Thomas Muhosha, one of the 12 suspects found with a case to answer in January, to find another lawyer to represent him.
Muhosha’s request to identify another lawyer came after he communicated to the court on Monday that Louis Bande was his new lawyer.
Through assistant registrar Jean Kayira, the court learnt from Bande that he had not agreed to represent Muhosha.
During yesterday’s proceedings, the judge asked Muhosha if he still wanted to be represented by a private practice lawyer, stating that if the answer is in the affirmative, the court will give him two days to do so.
The suspect maintained he still needed a private practice lawyer, but asked the court to give him two weeks instead of two days to identify one.
But Legal Aid Bureau’s lawyer Trouble Kalua, who is representing nine suspects in the case, while acknowledging that Muhosha has a right to be represented by a private lawyer, said further adjournments of the case were delaying justice on the matter.
On his part, Timothy Chirwa, lawyer representing clinician Lumbani Kamanga and Luckiness Magombo, also objected to the two weeks proposal, saying since the commencement of the case, Muhosha has changed lawyers twice.
Prosecution lawyer Steven Kayuni said the State will not allow Muhosha, who faces the charge of transacting in human tissue, to continue complicating the case, saying on three attempts the priest failed to abide by the court orders.
He suggested that in the interest of justice, Muhosha’s legal representation should be taken over by the State through Legal Aid Bureau.
In her ruling, Ntaba acknowledged that further adjournments are delaying justice in the case, but said just as the State and the other parties in defence have had prayed for adjournments before, the court considered it right to exercise equity by giving Muhosha two weeks to search for a lawyer.
She said should the suspect fail to identify one, he will be represented by the Legal Aid Bureau lawyers.
The judge also dismissed appeals for bail of other suspects, saying the court already ruled that they have cases to answer.
The body of Masambuka, 22, who hailed from Nakawa Village, Traditional Authority Nkoola in Machinga, was found buried on April 1 2018 after he was reported missing in March the same year.
Besides Muhosha, the suspects include Masambuka’s biological brother Cassim White Masambuka. The deceased’s brother faces three charges of murder, trafficking in persons and causing another person to harm a person with disability.