Judge paves way for Katopola's criminal prosecution: Malawi Clerk of Parliament

The High Court in Lilongwe has lifted the injunction which was sought by Clerk of Parliament Maltilda Katopola stopping government, President Joyce Banda and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from prosecuting her in the magistrate’s court and dismissing her from her job, effectively giving a lee way for criminal prosecution to proceed in the Magistrate’s court.

On July 24 2012, pleaded not guilty to two charges of abuse of office and failure to declare interest in award of contracts.

Katopola applied for leave for judicial review and injunction stopping the State from prosecuting her in the magistrate’s court and dismissing her from her job until the decision is reviewed by the High Court.

But the State applied for leave to discharge the injunction and judicial review.

In her determination on Friday, Justice Esmie Chombo of the High Court Lilongwe registry lifted the injunction the.

Katopola: Injunction lifted

Making her ruling, Justice Chombo noted that Katopola suppressed material facts that actually the President refused to have her dismissed as per recommendations of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

She was also faulted for suppressing material facts that the same issues of her employment were before the Industrial Relations Court “thus abuse of court process.”

Katopola wants the IRC in Lilongwe to declare that the PSC constructively dismissed her and should compensate her accordingly.

PSC, through the Attorney General, rejected Katopola’s claim of constructive dismissal, unfair dismissal and unfair labour practices or any breaches of labour laws or the Constitution, arguing that the Clerk of Parliament absconded her duties for no good reason by failing to report for work as advised by PSC after it lifted her suspension.

Further, the Judge ruled that there was a “misjoinder” as the president was not party to decision making process and she could not have influenced her removal.

Justice Chombo also noted that the Director of Public Prosecution was not party to decision making process to institute criminal investigations against her.

All he did was give consent to prosecute to the prosecutor to go ahead with prosecution of the matter, the Judge noted.

The implications are that the criminal prosecution can now proceed in the Magistrate’s court.

The State was represented by Steven Kayuni, Principal State Advocate in the Attorney general chambers and the Clerk of Parliament was represented by Kalekeni Kaphale.

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