Sheriffs in Blantyre have demolished a church building in Bangwe Township belonging to the Church of Christ following a writ of possession between Evance Mkwate and registered trustees of the church.
In July this year, Chief Resident Magistrate Thom Ligowe ruled in favour of Mkwate and ordered the church to relocate from the disputed land.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said the church was then given 21 days ultimatum but they never complied.
“Since the church seemed defiant, yesterday [Tuesday] sheriffs carried out the exercise as a way of reinforcing the court order,” said Mvula.
However, the Church’s Pastor Langton Chingwenembe said he was surprised with the action by Sheriffs as the church was not served with a warrant of execution.
Chigwenembe who said the church obtained the peace of land in 1986 through MCP’s area chairperson a Mr Chimatiro and Village headman Kainga of Bangwe, explained that they have already consulted their lawyer Nthembako Banda of Wilson and Morgan who is in a process to obtain a stay order to restrict Mkwate from claiming ownership of the land.
“It all started in 2010 when he (Mkwate) brought bricks on the side of the church and started constructing a house, we have been tussling in different traditional courts since then but they always ruled in our favour. This is when he engaged a lawyer in February this year and started pursuing the case in court without even notifying us.”
However in a separate interview, Mkwate remained adamant that the land belongs to him saying he brought it ‘from somebody around the area.’
Regarding notifying the church about the case, Mkwate said the he has never been present in the court himself as his lawyer represented him.
“I am in Liwonde right now, if you want to hear more I will come there tomorrow,” he said.
His lawyer Felix Tandwe of Destone and Company said for personal reasons, he has excused himself from representing Mkwate.
In a related development, sheriffs have impounded five vehicles belonging to the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) after it failed to comply with a court order to pay Plastic Extrusion and Moulding Limited K104 million it owed the company in debts.
Mvula said after assessment, Justice Michael Mtambo of the High Court Commercial Division court ruled that Escom should pay the money but it never complied to the order.
According to Mvula, two weeks ago Sheriffs went to Escom to seize the vehicles as a matter of enforcing the order but Escom rushed to the court and obtained a stay order.
“And on Monday this week Plastic Extrusion and Moulding Limited vacated the stay order and yesterday Sheriffs went again to Escom and impounded the vehicles.”
Escom Public Relations Officer George Mituka confirmed the development saying they are in a process of obtaining a stay order and appeal the case.