A case file from Zomba Magistrate’s Court, which saw business guru Thomson Mpinganjira controversially released from police custody, would be handled next week.
The court in Zomba cancelled a warrant of arrest for Mpinganjira which the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had effected on Wednesday, January 22.
Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court of Malawi registrar Agnes Patemba said, in an interview on Friday, that the assigned judge, Dorothy Kamanga, was still occupied with the murder trial of McDonald Masambuka as of on Friday.
“She will handle it when she finds time. She was still in court today, hearing the murder case,” she said.
The registrar disclosed that there were two approaches to the matter—for the High Court to review the case file on its own, or to allow ACB make an application for the review.
“We can have both—we can review it on our own or accept their application if filed,” Patemba said.
ACB director general Reyneck Matemba, in a separate interview on Friday, said his bureau initially wanted to file the application for the review, but the court advised his office that the High Court was going to do that on its own.
“But we were later [on Thursday] advised to proceed and make the application but it was late for us to do so. But we will do it,” Matemba said.
Other lawyers involved in the matter said it was obvious the review would only happen next week.
The Judiciary on Thursday acknowledged anomalies in Wednesday’s midnight order by the Zomba principal resident magistrate Ben Chitsakamile, who cancelled ACB’s warrant of arrest issued by a chief resident magistrate in Lilongwe.
Matemba bluntly called it “a sad day for the Judiciary in Malawi”, and sounding upset, he described the development as “very unfortunate”, and he urged the Judiciary to do some soul-searching.
Malawi Law Society (MLS), through its president Burton Mhango, also hinted, in an interview Thursday, that the society was studying the developments and would move in where necessary.
Mpinganjira—the group chief executive officer of FDH Financial Holdings Limited—was released from Blantyre Police Station around midnight, after his lawyers obtained the order at Zomba Magistrate’s Court quashing the warrant of arrest.
But Patemba said as it stands, ACB’s hands on Mpinganjira’s arrest warrant are tied, until a review of the order is made.
She said Section 96 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code provides that where a warrant has been issued, it shall remain in force until it is executed or it is set aside by the same court which issued it, hence the anomaly aspect coming in.
As regards to the disputed order granted by Zomba Magistrate’s Court, Patemba said it still remains valid whether it has irregularities or not, and a judge will have to give directions after reviewing it.
Mpinganjira’s arrest came barely nine days after ACB kept under wraps two names of suspects in the alleged bribery attempt of High Court judges in the presidential election nullification petition case.
In the elections case, two of the presidential candidates in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections—UTM’s Saulos Chilima (first petitioner) and Malawi Congress Party candidate Lazarus Chakwera court to nullify presidential election results over alleged irregularities, especially in the results management system.(second petitioner)—want the
Incumbent President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party, who was declared winner of the elections, is the first respondent with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC as the second respondent in the case.
The five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi, sitting as the Constitutional Court, concluded hearing the matter on December 20 2019 and indicated that they would deliver judgement within 45 days from that date.
The judges hearing the case are Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo.