The Malawi Law Society (MLS) yesterday morning offered to represent in court Eric Aniva, the Nsanje man who confessed to defiling young girls and sleeping with widows in a sexual cleansing ritual when he was HIV positive.
Aniva appeared before the Nsanje Magistrate’s Court yesterday to answering a case of prohibited harmful act which is contrary to Section 5 of the Gender Act, but MLS interventional forced First Grade Magistrate Alex Masanjala to adjourn the case to August 15 2016.
Lawyer Mandala Mambulasa, a representative from MLS came to the court in Nsanje yesterday to alert the court that the Constitutional body wants to represent the suspect.
Before the adjournment, Aniva, who comes from Chiphwembe Village in Traditional Authority(T/A) Malemia asked for a bail, but the State prosecution team objected saying the case is of public interest and releasing him on bail would fuel public anger.
However, Masanjala said the issue was about the justice and not public interest and, therefore, there was no need to please public, but to ensure that justice prevails.
“Bail is a constitutional right and any case is bailable. However, since MLS is interested to offer pro-bono legal representation, I am not giving you a bail so that the lawyers are able to reach you because it might be difficult for them to meet you while in the village,” said the magistrate.
In a phone interview MLS president John Suzi Banda said looking at the circumstances surrounding the case, chances are high that the accused might not get a fair trial, hence, they want to represent him.
“It is our responsibility to ensure every citizen has access to fair trial and in cases where the accused cannot afford to pay for legal representation, we come in with pro-bono service,” said Suzi Banda.
Aniva’s story became popular following an interview he granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on July 21, in which he confessed being hired to sleep with girls and widows in a sexual cleansing ritual. The revelations prompted Mutharika to order his arrest.