BLANTYRE (Malawian Watchdog)—Malawi’s former Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara has been released from Zomba Maximum prison on bail pending appeal.
Kasambara alongside his c-convicts businessperson Pika Manondo and former Malawi Defence Force soldier Macdonald Kumwembe were convicted on charges of attempting to murder Malawi’s former budget Director Paul Mphwiyo.
Upon being convitced and been sent to prison to serve 13 year jail term, Kasambara, a legal luminary himself, applied for bail pending appeal and Supreme Court Judge Dan stain Mwaungulu presided over the appeal case.
Making his ruling, Mwaungulu, viewed by many legal scholars as Malawi’s version of UK’s Lord Denning, for his tendency of departing from convention rulings, has lived to his billing by granting Kasambara the said bail.
However in a twist of events, Kasambara’s co-accused, Manondo and Kumwembe, have been denied the said bail pending bail.
“We shall overcome,” Kasambara told the media after being sentenced to serve a prison sentence.
The shooting of Mpwhiyo at the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe is believed to have exposed the plunder of public resources at Capitol Hill in Lilongwe in which the local media dubbed cashgate scandal.
Malawian Watchdog legal reporters are on the ground to get hold of the full so Malawians can appreciate the Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Mwaungulu’s reasoning.
In making the ruling, Mwaungulu heard submissions from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale and lawyers for the trio, namely Modecai Msisha, Senior Counsel (SC), Michael Goba Chipeta and Lusungu Gondwe and in his ruling, Mwaungulu noted that in convicting Kasambara, the High Court judge Micheal Mtambo, evidently relied on call logs which did not place Kasambara anywhere near the scene of the crime.
The day Mphwiyo was shot outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe, Kasambara was meeting former South African president Thabo Mbeki.
Legal commentary from barrister Z Allan Ntata
In their case, Mphwiyo was about to expose Kasambara’s role in the cashgate scandal and that was the motive behind the attempt on his life. But if this was the motive and the prosecution truly believe that this was the reason for Kasambara conspiring to murder Mphwiyo, why is the same prosecutor also accusing Mphwiyo of Cashgate related offences in a separate case also currently in the courts?
Are we to believe that Mphwiyo, the victim of a murder conspiracy and an attempt on his life for fighting Cashgate, is also its mastermind and instigator? It is a sad contradiction for the future as it may discourage other whistle-blowers.
A future potential whistle-blower may decide to keep their mouth shut for fear of being considered criminal masterminds!
If in our governance system, we allow for this kind of contradictory thinking to continue, it will be very difficult for the country to move forward, especially in matters of corruption and government malfeasance.
Those that are given the responsibility of safeguarding the country’s criminal justice system need to be more competent and more consistent in their thinking.
The Kasambara trial may have scored points for the government, but for me, it leaves a rather conspicuous governance sour taste in the mouth.