The High Court Judge Michael Mtambo has slapped a contempt of court charge to former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara SC after he uttered words that the judge said would bring into dispute the proceedings of the trial into the shooting of former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
It all started when Kasambara, who is a third defendant, was cross examining Pika Manondo on the distances and time frame one can take to drive form diversion road going to Mphwiyo’s house which is said to be dumpy road.
Mphwiyo was shot outside his Area 43 home in the capital city Lilongwe on September 13 2013 and his shooting led to mass arrests of civil servants and private sector businesspersons linked to Cashgate.
Manondo estimated that it can take close to 7 to 10 minutes for one to drive from the diversion to Mphwiyo’s house. Then Kasambara asked Manondo again how long it can take for one to drive from Kanengo which is a far end of Area 43.
Blantyre-based judge Mtambo presiding the case queried the relevance of the question which Kasambara said it was relevant since he wanted to show the distance and time it can take as the call logs of Manondo shows that on the night he was captured to be using Area 43 tower and within a short space of time he was also said to be using Kanengo tower.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale rose to object on the line of questioning arguing it was already disputed in the court earlier. She said on Manondo is not an expert on vehicle speed driving and asking him on time estimation is not good.
Judge Mtambo chipped in: “Madam DPP you want to dispute it now? But he has already estimated earlier on when he said he can drive 7 to 10 minutes from diversion road to Mphwiyo’s house.”
Kachale said prosecution could have tackled in their submissions but looking at the line of questioning Kasambara was pursuing, they wanted to make their point heard.
This did not go well with Kasambara who told the court that it’s not fair for the prosecution to allege that Manondo indeed drove that night to Mphwiyo’s house using his VW Golf when court records shows the said vehicle wasn’t mentioned as the one used.
“My Lord it’s not fair for the state to be making insinuations that the second accused did drive to Area 43 on the said date with VW Golf when it’s on record that the alleged car used was not VW Golf. Let’s be honest enough to say something we have evidence and we can prove than continue making false insinuations.
“It’s painful for the state to be here telling lies based on her false insinuations, and you are lucky it’s in court, if it was outside the court I would have slapped you,” said the highly charged Kasambara.
Kachale rose in disbelief and calmly to correct herself but Justice Mtambo asked her “madam DPP is that not contempt of court?”
The top prosecutor agreed, saying it’s more than a contempt of court as Kasambara remarks were meant to intimidate her being a woman.
Kachale said: “My Lord, the remarks made by [Kasambara] are more than contempt of court, they are meant to intimidate me, demeaning the office of DPP just because I’m a woman, it’s a gender issue because I’m a woman that’s why he says he could have slapped me. If it was his fellow man he couldn’t say that knowing they can stand each other outside the court.”
A special public prosecutor Enoch Chibwana said: “The third accused is not an ordinary man. He is a Senior Counsel and he must show exemplary behaviour to other lawyers. A censure is not enough because the language he has been using has not been encouraging at all.”
But Kasambara told the court that he didn’t mean to say he will slap her but he was only referring to her repeatedly insinuations can lead one to be angry if it was outside court issue.
Kasambara apologised to the Judge saying he uttered the words due to the “heat of the moment” and that the court should consider that when in the dock he was not an SC, but a third accused person who could be allowed to be emotive.
He said: “I didn’t intimidate her. What I said was in the heat of the moment. I would plead that you censure me and we move on. I will try to keep myself in check, even if provoked again.”
In his ruling Mtambo issued a warning and censored Kasambara never to repeat the use of offensive and provocative words in the court to any officer of the court.
Kasambara has since told the court that he will try respect the court ruling.
The Mphwiyo Shooting trial continues with Kasambara cross examining Manondo.
Former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Macdonald Kumwembe alongside businessperson Pika Manondo and Kasambara were found with a case to answer in the shooting of Mphwiyo.
Manondo has vehemently told the court that he could not harm Mphwiyo claiming he has always been his best friend.
He requested the state to provide the court with tangible information on grounds that would make one think of killing his friend.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :