Trial in a case involving supreme leader of the Peoples Land Organisation (PLO) Vincent Wandale and 22 of his followers failed to start on Monday at the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court after the lawyer they have just hired asked the court to give him more time to familiarise himself with the case.
Senior Resident Magistrate Thokozani Soko adjourned the case to Wednesday September 14 2016 after defence lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta of Gobz and Rechtswissnschaft Legal Practitioners told the court that over the weekend he was instructed by Wandale and his Vice Chrispin Nkhoma to represent them in the case but they were not clear on whether he will represent only the two or all the 23 suspects.
“When they contacted me, I had an impression that I will only represent the two but I have just been told right now that I should represent all of them. So I need time to consult my client on this and since I have just been served with the disclosures, I would like to be given time to go through the disclosures for a clear understanding of the case,” said Chipeta.
Wandale and his vice Chrispin Nkhoma are answering four counts of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, unauthorised use of land, criminal trespass and inciting violence while the remaining 21 are answering the first three counts in connection to an incident that happened on September 1 in Thyolo where hundreds of villagers invaded privately owned Conforzi Tea Estate and started sharing land among them.
They have been on remand at Chichiri prison for close to two weeks after the same court refused to grant them bail last week.
Southern region prosecution officer David Mtete said in the interest of fair trial the court should allow the defence lawyer to have some time with his clients before commencement of the trial.
Mtete said: “As the state we are ready to parade four witnesses in this court today (Monday) but I believe it is proper that the defence lawyer be given time to meet his client before we go further.”
Mtete also asked that on September 14 the court be moved to Thyolo at the exact place of the scene as requested by one of the witnesses and as provided in section 73 (3) of the constitution of Malawi.
Magistrate Soko has since agreed to move the court to Thyolo on Wednesday.