Lawyer for Malawi Law Society (MLS) in the judges’ case Wesley Mwafulirwa yesterday asked the High Court in Lilongwe that if former president Peter Mutharika and former top civil servant Lloyd Muhara fail to pay K69.9 million legal costs, the duo’s properties should be seized.
The two were found guilty of sending Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and Justice of Appeal Edward Twea on forced leave, pending retirement.
Mutharika and Muhara applied to the assistant registrar Anthony Kapaswiche to set aside execution of the payment, pending review of another application on review of the costs scheduled for April 26 2021.
In an interview after the hearing of the application for suspension of the order pending review, which took place in the chambers yesterday, Mwafulirwa submitted to the registrar to sustain the order for payment.
He said: “The instruction from my clients [MLS] is that the payment shouldn’t be suspended, but Mutharika and Muhara should pay and if they don’t pay, they should either be garnished or their property must be seized.”
Mwafulirwa also parried away concerns by the defence that the applicants may fail to refund the money if the costs are reduced after the review, arguing that interest of justice demands that there should be an enforcement.
Mutharika’s lawyer Mwayi Banda said he had asked for suspension of enforcement since the amount to be enforced is under review.
“Before the review is heard, the applicants have already started enforcement proceedings … the court should review the costs first and the applicants may then enforce it. It is a basic argument and we are wondering why our friends are disputing,” he said.
Lawyer representing Human Rights Defenders Coalition—one of the applicants in the matter—Khumbo Soko observed that there is no reasonable ground for seeking a stay order as advanced by the defence lawyers, saying the issues were already resolved by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda in his ruling on March 22 2021.
In his ruling, the Chief Justice stated that there is no evidence that the applicants, would not be able to pay back if there are changes to the costs.
The registrar has set April 15 2021 to rule on whether to set aside execution of the legal costs.
Meanwhile, the applicants have served banks for Mutharika and Muhara with third-party debt order and are waiting for a response from them to claim the money. n