Magistrate Nyimba accuses prosecution of delay tactics: Malawi Voice journo’s case

State counsel, Jailos Chafunsa had a rude awakening on Wednesday afternoon when Senior Resident Magistrate, Viva Nyimba got irked with his delay ploys in an on-going Malawi Voice Editor, Justice Mponda extortion case.

Trial was expected to commence on Wednesday afternoon after adjournment two weeks ago following application by the complainant, Peoples Party (PP) official Joseph Chikwemba to allow private lawyer, Chimwemwe Kalua to co-prosecute the case.

However, the court resumed to another State application for adjournment on grounds that Kalua, who has been approved by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), was handling another case.

It did not please Magistrate Nyimba who warned State Advocate Jailos Chafunsa that he will not tolerate politics to hold the case to ransom, arguing throughout his career as a lawyer; it was unheard off for a co-prosecuted case to halt due to absence of one of the prosecutors.

Journalist Mponda (left) with his lawyer Chancy Gondwe

Nyimba while questioning Kalua’s approval by the DPP, said idea of contracting the private prosecutor did not mean the DPP was delegating his duties.

“The DPP is fittingly represented by the State advocate, it does not make  [sense] for the case to delay, more especially bearing in mind that there is no evidence suggesting that the DPP has granted Kalua consent to co-prosecute this matter,” queried  Magistrate Nyimba.

The magistrate also warned once his apprentice, Chafunsa not to allow politics to stand in the way of his profession, saying he should not accept to be used by politicians.

Nyimba said: “Courts are not political offices and as judiciary, we cannot tolerate justice to be delayed because there is politicking somewhere”.

Mponda’s lawyer, Chancy Gondwe was surprised with the adjournment application, arguing the State was actually denying his client justice.

“It seems the state is not ready to prosecute the case. For instance, the investigations into this matter were concluded long time ago, but the defence has just been served with the disclosure today,” said Gondwe.

He then asked the court to relax Mponda’s bail conditions to allow him to be reporting once every month instead of every fortnight on the basis that delays to conclude the matter was being occasioned by the State.

Nyimba has since reserved his ruling on bail conditions amendment for Thursday afternoon (December 12, 2013) when trial will resume.

The Magistrate  has also ordered the State to ensure that all witnesses in the case are available or will be forced to act otherwise.

Chikwemba has been listed as principle witness in the case in which Mponda, 26 and hails from Nkhonya village, T/A Chikumbu in Mulanje has been charged with ‘Extortion’ contrary to Section 305 of the Penal Code, which he has since denied.

Earlier on the police had charged Mponda with ‘Intimidating Royal Family’ and Extortion but was forced to remove the first charge for unexplained reasons.

According to case charge-sheet, Mponda, on October 29th and November 1, 2013, is reported to have allegedly threatened Chikwemba to pay K500,000 or will write publish several stories linking him (Chikwemba) and his political associates to massive theft of public funds.

Last year, Mponda was arrested for insulting President Joyce Banda but was acquitted by the Magistrates Court in Lilongwe after the State failed to prove its case.

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