Law scholar finds Kasambara’s jail term ‘manifestly excessive’: Queries Judge Mtambo for abusing  judicial power 

South Africa-based Malawian professor of law, Danwood Chirwa, has  found that the sentence of  13 years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) handed down to former justice minister Ralph Kasambara for conspiring to murder former budget director Paul Mphwiyo is ”manifestly excessive.

Kasambara in armoured police van as a prisoner

Kasambara in armoured police van as a prisoner

High Court Judge Michael Mtambo: Handed a lenghty prison sentence to Kasambara and his two accomplices

High Court Judge Michael Mtambo: Handed a lenghty prison sentence to Kasambara and his two accomplices

Dr Danwood Chirwa

Dr Danwood Chirwa:  There was an abuse of judicial power

The maximum sentence for conspiracy to murder is 14 years imprisonment with hard labour.

But in the legal scholar has argued that the Mphwiyo shooting case was not being conducted fairly as presided by Judge Micheal Mtambo.

“The sentences that have been imposed on the three accused are so manifestly excessive as to suggest an abuse of judicial power,” argued Chirwa  a professor of law at the prestigious University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Judge Mtambo also handed down custodial sentences of 15 years and 11 years IHL on  convicted   former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Macdonald Kumwembe and businessperson Pika for the two counts of attempted murder and conspiracy to murder, respectively. Attempted murder carries a maximum of life imprisonment.

Manondo and Kumwembe’s sentences will run consecutively, meaning they will serve 26 years in prison.

In his commentary that has circulated on social media, Chirwa  noted that the High Court has imposed setences that are close to the maximum sentences and in the case of Manondo and Kumwembe, the court has imposed a sentence that “ exceeds what may be imposed on a murder charge by abusing the successive sentencing rule.”

He argues: “ These sentences cannot by any stretch of the imagination be justified under our normals rules of sentencing and under our Constitution which requires our criminal justice system to be humane and fair.”

The conviction judgment delivered by Judge Mtambo has also been faulted by the legal expert as “ a disappointment in terms of both the carelessness with which it was written and the substantive grounds on which the convictions were based.”

He  also faulted Judge Mtambo for withholding the judgment from the convicts for days, without  justification.

“ If the judgment was not ready, why was the hearing not postponed? By not releasing the judgment, while revoking the accused’s bail, the Court knowingly prevented the accused from filing their appeal and applying for bail at  the earliest opportunity,” he stated.

He criticised the judgement as being made with errors in law.

“It is clear the case of conspiracy rested on call logs. The impression we got about the call logs from  the media and what is in the judgment are so divergent. The call logs in the judgment are so ridiculously few, spread over a period of time that without transcripts cannot form a basis for supporting the conviction.

“The inferences the Court drew from certain call logs can never be accepted as the only reasonable inferences. Not only did the inferences drawn by the prosecution change at different times, those drawn by the Court differ from the prosecution’s and from page to page. It should have taken more for the High Court to bypass the Supreme Court’s judgment warning about basing a conviction solely on untranscribed call logs,” Chirwa argued.

The law professors said the sentencing proceedings are not important “ in the bigger scheme of things” as the case will ultimately be decided on appeal.

“ And there’s a strong chance of success by the accused on appeal.  But we must be vigilant in protesting against abuses of power whenever they occur. I have great respect for the judge concerned. But on this instance, he’s succumbed to prejudice and let the law down,” Chirwa wrote.

Both Director of Public Prosecution Mary Kachale and her deputy Enock Chibwana said they were satisfied with the outcome of the case and the sentence imposed on the convicts.

The shooting of Mphwiyo outside his house in 2013 opened a can of worms on high profile corruption  scandal which was christened as Cashgate.

Soon after the shooting incident, several government officials were arrested with suitcases and bags of money stashed in the boots of vehicles.

Mphwiyo  is currently answering charges of theft and money laundering in relation to the Cashgate scandal.

The gunshot survivor is suspected to have stolen or laundered about $3.3 million in 2013 when he was Malawi’s Budget Director.

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47 thoughts on “Law scholar finds Kasambara’s jail term ‘manifestly excessive’: Queries Judge Mtambo for abusing  judicial power ”

  1. Xes says:

    Bravo to Judge Mtambo…Mr Danwood kaya…zakhala bho kuti muli kumeneko…ndinudi anthu osafunikila mdziko muno palimodzi ndia kasambara omwewo…mafuna ku ndendeko kuzikhala anthu osachita bwino okhaokha…manyi akowo konko!!!

  2. Hafta says:

    He will be acquitted by Judge Madise on appeal in Mzuzu

  3. prof. Odiyayo says:

    Kodi agalu inu mukutukwana Chirwa munapitako kusukulu? Danwood ndi munthu wophunzira kwambiri kuposa aziphunzitsi amalamu ku Chanco ndi ku Poly. Mtambo saziwa zambiri. Ask Mtambo, he knows that Chirwa and I have published enormously in legal studies than him and presented several papers in international fora than any Malawian lawyer or legal scholar.

  4. kaji says:

    You Mtambo if at all Kasambara dies in prison his blood is in your hands,you are a jealosy judge.Wansanje ,anakulakwira chani Kasambara?Why didnt you follow the law? Kutengera pa chidani?You are a shame to judges.God will punish you.Which law school did you go?Shame on you

    1. Chihaula says:

      Aise! Ngati unadya ndi Kasambara udzisanza ndithu! You better just shut your ugly mouth! Ukapsya limodzi ndi mlengi wako Satana. Nalikukuti wachabechabe!

    2. nancy says:

      Awaso musatinyase he should rot in jail your kasambara thinks he’s too much in malawi get a life and fuck off…

  5. Joseph says:

    Typical of this professor of law in the diaspora. Check his track record since he started surfacing on social media and commenting on several issues affecting Malawi. This must be your last straw, please get into law oblivion or else your will expose your stupidity excessively that even lay men will see. Lawyers a selfish lot as the bible says and they do not want to abdicate to the law.Just two days ago another one was defending the convicts’ remorsefulness when it was bare for all to see that it did not even happen. Bravo Judge Mtambo you have passed the litimus test just your follow Judges in Mzuzu .Sipafuna masewla poterepa. Yours Judge Mtambo has been a better show than Nonsipa of RSA

  6. Central says:

    Wagwanayo wood………….!!! Wakwithu pa Maula, sheeeeeeeeeeeeee!! kikikikikikiki

  7. Chihaula says:

    After failing to find any lawyer worth of any respect in Malawi to trash Mtambo’s judgment and cry for Kasambara, Nyasatimes took a desperate measure and got these idiotic comments from this so called professor Danwood Chirwa.

    What a pathetic professor!

  8. gringo says:

    danwood come and teach at UNIMA so that Malawians are benefitting from your knowledge other than matsotsi ku joniko.
    reason why you are in joni its because malawi is poor yet your fellow lawyers have acquired too much wealth in a poor country.

  9. mjiba says:

    Inu a Chirwa wakwithu syndrome ikupwetekani Malawians are tired of having the rich and the connected get away from prison kundende kungokhala kwa anthu osauka. Kwa ife amene tili ku Malawi kuno tikudziwa kuti Ralph, Pika ndi Kumwembe anapangana zopha Mphwiyo. Iweyo Chirwa umati chilango chake chikhale chiyani? Wasala Mphwiyo naye alowa. Tikufuna ma Judge ngati Mtambo who has shown character which is absent in our judiciary. Judge Mtambo for CHIEF JUSTICE NOW!!!!!!!!

  10. Poor Nalawian says:


  11. Poor Nalawian says:

    Danwood, you can not constructively contribute to Malawi’s affairs since you view our issues through a glass. You don’t have a pinch of how painful the acts of such barbaric persons are still being felt by poor Malawians. Just do not comment anything. You are very ignorant of the situation on the ground here.

  12. Raphael mbwenu says:

    Useless man Danwood. Uli ndimwayi ndimafuna kukutukwana monyasa..Mutu wopanda nzeru zakuya kupanda sukulu uli woitamila ma minibus mu Jorberg muno.Stupid man

  13. That\'s a great opinion Danwood says:

    A Danwood kikik mwangavwa ma comment nga bulu ngalembeka Paso yapa. Malawi ntchalu cha ndichu chifukwa tanyinu tikuzitchona kunu kutari ku Scotland.

  14. GRM says:

    Why real Malawian lawyers did not comment but only you based outside Malawi? What is more worse and dangerous than a former Attorney General and justice minister and a soldier who are supposed to protect people but are conspiring to kill. Mphwiyo has a bullet in his cheek when yours is so smooth with mang’ina a ku Joni.

  15. Zexa says:

    Zachitumbuka zamanyimkhosi basi. a danwood Tazingowanamizani mazuluwo kumeneko. Zakunozi mwachepa nazo.What a sily and pathetic prof you are!

  16. Sibweni says:

    Iwe Chijere Chirwa, why didn’t you come to represent your Kasambara?
    Kumeneko ndiye timati kupusa, why coming up with good ideas while it too late.
    You would better shut UP your toilet. Fotseki.

    1. apm says:

      Akulu monga simudziwa kuti nkhani ikakhala kukhoti we don’t comment? He has a full right to give his opinion. Inunso lembani yanu opinion.

      1. Xes says:

        walemba zopanda nzeru ndiweyo axse

  17. tony simwaka says:

    Had the very opinion on the matter, we are trying to convict someone simply because is smart, or arrogant, or rich, or just hate him for whatever reasons. Having followed the case from its outset, there is no evidence that remotely pin Kasambara to the case. Do i believe Kasambara was part of the bigger picture government cashgate corrupt tendenceis. You bet, but if you are to convict someone you have to bring evidence to substatiate those allegations. AS the writers put, the learned judge clearly had a vendetta considering the previous” legal encounters” with Kasambara…that in its own should have reason to recurse himself from the bench. How about those phony statements from Mandondos and the likes to testify against Kasambara, How about the public acknowledgement by the then President Joyce Banda that she knew who shot Mphwiyo….what happened to that public testimony??? Why did the judge not allow that to be part and parcel of the depositions. Certaintly its not my business to agree or disagree with Kasambara’s conduct of his private life, and so that should not be part of determining factor in judging a criminical case. Bear in mind, the judge is applying a circumstantial evidence, but the same fails the test to prove beyond reasonable doubt. There is nothing in judges summation that was compelling and damning to convict Ralph. I am yet to see or hear it. How about the call logs??? that should shed some light on what and when, and whereabouts of the accused. This is akin to the MWANZA MURDERS OF CABINET MINISTERS….when the commission report came out the muluzi government was quick to condemn the accused( John Tembo etc) but nothing in that report connected the accused to the murders. Do i believe that? NO, but thus how our legal system works. The same applies here and yet because its a one man JURY, Judge Mtambo decided to use the bully puppet to settle a score with Kasambara by convicting someone when nothing remotely warrants it.

  18. nalipembezu says:

    Raph Kasambara and chijere chirwa both come from Nkhata-bay

  19. Only surviving says:

    Professor Chirwa are you for real. These men committed murder, and one of them is a former Minister of JUSTICE.
    Kasambara wasted the Court’s time and valuable resources, by not pleading guilty. If he is not guilty them why did his lawyer Modecai say in Court that Kasambara was remorseful.
    I suggest that you sound out your views with other legal experts, for you make no sense at all.

  20. Homeboy says:

    Apply for the position of Supreme Court Judge to bell out your criminal cousin. You live next to Chanthunya the murder you cant even bring him to Malawi. prodigal son and coward who do not love his country.

  21. OMEX70 says:

    I have no iota of respect for this man, Danwood Chirwa for his useless arguments. Why should you be concerned with the sentence yet the convicts were planning to eliminate someone’s life? If it were you who was shot, how could you feel? If the convicts are your friends that’s your problem.

  22. Gondwe Peter says:

    Poor Malawians are jailed many years for stealing a goat, bicycle etc even spending 20 to 25 years in prison. Come and do your research at Malawi prisons and you will see that it is the country penal system that that is hash especially to the poor. Now just because someone is rich, you think 13years is too much?

  23. What A Mess In Malawi says:

    Mbavumbwa anyidu amunena yawa, ndikukukambiyani kali ini, kweni chitata mwanyangu – simwajione sonu!

  24. nancy says:

    Kodi awaso nde ati….za ziii

  25. Henje says:

    Danwood Chirwa you know nothing just shut up.Paja che ‘Rough’ amafikira kwanu akabwera ku Southafrica kuno.

  26. Sipyete PhD. says:

    Aaaaah za ziiii! Atumbuka timakudziwani nzeru zanu zopusa. Coz Kasambara is your homeboy and Mtambo is not from Nkhatabay, ndiye he has abused judicial powers??? How? You said it yourself kuti maximum custodial sentence for attempted murder is 14years, Kasambara got 14years, so where is the abuse of judicial power here? How critical and evil should the ATTEMPT TO MURDER be for one to get 14yrs in jail? Mwatani kodi? Just because ndinu a Professor a Law muyambe kutinamiza? As far as I know Kasambara, he is a SOPHISTICATED CROOK ofunika kutsekeredwa for life. Galu ameneyu wachita zoopsa pa Nyasaland and beyond. More poeple would have been victimised the Mphwiyo style. Inu a Chirwa ngati muli ndi nzeru pitani ku Nkhatabay mukayambe kukolopa nyanja! Anthu obwebweta tatopa nanu! You are not bringing any better change for Malawi koma ma controversies basi. Tiyeni uko. Fotseki!

  27. chinadoll says:

    Just because Ralph is your fellow tumbuka.We don’t care about your opinion bambo

  28. Zowazowa says:

    Chirwa does not present a case against a sentence of 13 years, one year less than maximum. Judge Mtambo, in fact, explained that Kasambara showed no remorse and did not seek clemency before judgement. It is clear that Kasambara felt above the law, before, during and after he committed the crime. The judge held a fair hearing, heard arguments from the prosecutor as well as an overly confident defence. The court of public opinion, unreliable as it may be, reached a similar verdict “guilty” and the sentence on the street has been received with resignation – most people hoped for life in prison without parole, notwithstanding that the case presented does not warrant such a sentence. Nevertheless, people on the street know that the conspirators had the designs of taking Paul Mphwiyo’s life and the rumor had it within hours after the shooting that the AG had conspired to commit this heinous deed. Former President, JB, was briefed and she warned about the breakdown of law and order but hoped to sweep the case under the rag because of her own exposure.
    Abwana, this earth is a sphere – what goes up – comes down!!!!

    I know Nyasatimes moderator will not post this comment – but you will have read it anyway

  29. Pitala says:

    Mtambo akufuna kutchuka koma choti aziwe ndi chakuti akuchokera kumpoto a ndale akungomgwirisa ntchito at the end azamusiya look what had just been happened to late Maxson Mbendera where is he now. He was not bad koma pa ntchito yonse yomwe anawathandiza a DPP ija lero kungofa mwachoncho. Again Mtambo you are from North.

    1. #NothernersHaveManipulatedThisCountry says:

      And you are very selfish anthu inu. Evil.

    2. Kante says:

      Uku timati kuyankhula kupusa wakhuta manyi amu nyika plateau eti? Chitsiru cha munthu nkhani yaza mitundu ikubwera bwanji apa. Manyi ako wamva!

  30. EPIGLOTIS says:

    No wonder this so called professor of law Danwood Chirwa can not ride the The Malawian Law Bus because his head is dunderfool…awa ada chilungamo chamampha adchita ada Mtambo. Awa akasewenze anayerekedwa kwambiri pa Malawi. Ng’oma yolilitsa sichedwa kuphulika

  31. odala says:

    Stupid lawyer in a foreign land….no wonder there is fake justice in SA as well u want to show as if u know more…usatipusitse maximum sentence yamulandu uwu ndi 14 years Mtambo was lenient t subtract a year in th sentence.

  32. Nabetha says:

    Kasambara and his friends committed a serious crime of conspiring to murder Mphwiyo. Judge Mutambo got it right by convicting these criminals. But I would also like to support the observation of Mr. Danwood. The sentence imposed on these criminals is so severe. The action of judge Mtambo must be questioned based on this part alone.

  33. Mtumbo says:

    This man judge Mtambo, must be fired and never again allowed to preside over a judicial case. He is himself a danger to society as he is more likely to send more innocent victims to jail.

  34. Manondo says:

    Mr Law Scholar what about the other cases of poor Malawians who are handed custodial sentences ataba nkhuku. Why dont you comment and how special is this one? What about Alubino cases? I thought you will also be coming out and say the sentences for alubino killers are not enough? Ine Kuti dabwi!!!!!!!

  35. Jogoo says:

    I totally agree with Prof Chirwa.
    To me how this case has been handled right from the beginning leaves more to be desired from Judge Mtambo and Kachale.
    It looks there were forces from executive arm of government as well.
    Do to others what you want God do to you as well, whether you are a judge or not.

  36. Kodi? says:

    I invite the professor to be watching DSTV Channel 171 (ID X) where they show numerous cases whose conviction were based on call logs.

  37. john aluma says:

    Mr Danwood Chirwa…kkk..It clearly shows you are from Nkhata-Bay and Kasambara is your homeboy whom you are trying to exonerate. But could I ask you whether you dont believe that Kasambara was indulging himself into cashgating??? I will tell you this..Please shut up because Kasambara was indeed cashgating. Had Mphwiyo not shot on that day, he was getting K1billion from former Minister of Health Halima Daudi the next day, as he had already informed the contractor who was to get the cheque from Halima Daudi and then cash it for him. He deserves LIFE IMPRISONMENT

  38. Mwatikwana says:

    Atumbuka at it again! Kubakirana mopanda manyazi.

    In my opinion the judge uses his discretion to impose the maximum or whatever sentence which he feels is right.

    I would not be surprised if Danwood fella is Rough Kasambara’s student.

  39. Mlomwe says:

    Chokani. Akutumaniwo akupweteketsanitu. Mwakhuta eti!!

  40. Jah Man says:

    chigamulo cha mlandu wa chigololo ichi! there is no black and white evidence of conspiracy or attempted murder.

    Joyce Banda has proved herself right when she told kasambara to rot in jail and that she is married to a finest lawyer. Someone should analyse he relationship betWeen Mtambo and the Bandas

  41. ngaliba says:

    professor on paper, in class. uzagwire mfiludi kaye kuyambira ku thyolo magistrate court.

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