he Legal Aid Bureau has filed an application to the High Court seeking bail for suspects in the Mangochi murder of McDonald Masambuka, a boy with albinism.
Twelve people were arrested in March 2018 as suspects and trial for the case was concluded in February last year but judgement is yet to be delivered.
In the application for bail, the Legal Aid Bureau argues that since suspects have been waiting for judgement for about one and a half years and there is uncertainty as to when judgement will be delivered, it is only fair to have them released on bail.
“That the length of time spent in custody before, during and after trial and the lack of certainty as to when judgement will be delivered herein is prejudicial to the accused person’s right to fair trial, which I believe, includes the right to a final disposal of the trial within a reasonable time,” reads part of the affidavit from Trouble Kalua, Legal Aid Bureau deputy director, dated August 17 2021.
In a written response, Legal Aid Bureau director Masauko Chamkakala said the application for bail is another option after failing to get a response from the Judiciary.
He said: “We are applying for bail because we are of the view that being on remand this long is tantamount to punishment before conviction”.
The Masambuka case has high-profile individuals, connected with the previous administration, mentioned as suspects during trial. It took the intervention of the then presiding judge to stop the accused from mentioning the names and the media was stopped from publishing the same.
Justice Zione Ntaba, who initially handled the case, recused herself from the matter which is now under Justice Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga.
The delay in delivering justice has displeased many, including the Legal Aid Bureau which says it has twice written Judiciary on the matter but has received no response.
In response to our questionnaire, High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Gladys Gondwe said the date is yet to be set but could not state what is delaying judgement.
Among those arrested in connection with Masambuka’s murder are Roman Catholic priest Father Thomas Muhosha, police officer Chikondi Chileka, the deceased’s brother Kassim Masambuka and Machinga District Hospital clinical officer Lumbani Kamanga.