Magistrate Nyimba cautions PP’s Chikwemba: Bail conditions varied for Malawi Voice editor

Senior Resident Magistrate, Viva Nyimba has warned ruling Peoples Party (PP) official, Joseph Chikwemba who on Thursday afternoon skipped court session over private business.

Chikwemba, who dragged Malawi Voice Editor, Justice Mponda to court for alleged extortion, on Thursday failed to turn up for hearing on excuse that he was attending Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) board meeting in Lilongwe.

The excuse forced Nyimba, who on Wednesday got irked with the State’s delay ploys in the case, to send a warning to Chikwemba through his lawyers, State Advocate Jailos Chafunsa and private lawyer, Chimwemwe Kalua.

“The complainant, who is the principal witness in this case, is not here, he chose board meeting instead of court hearing. I hope counsel will be able to advise your client that court matters are priority than any other issue,” said Nyimba.

PP’s Chikwemba: Drags journalist to court

Nyimba added: “I am concerned with what is happening in this matter, we haven’t even commenced trial; not started hearing evidence; not even done preliminaries. I hope all parties in the case will ensure speedy trial. There is a need for trial to start in earnest”.

Bail Conditions Varied

Nyimba has since varied one of the bail conditions, allowing Mponda to be reporting for bail at State Advocate office every month-end instead of every fortnight following the State’s delays to conclude the matter on time.

The court on Thursday afternoon admitted Kalua of Golden and Law firm to co-prosecute Mponda after he presented consent letter from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

However, Kalua said the letter was improvised in place of the original copy, which he said DPP had sent by mail and was yet to reach his office.

Kalua then asked for more time to adequately prepare for the case following the approval from DPP and promised to adhere to court’s concerns on the need of speeding the trial.

But Mponda’s lawyer, Chancy Gondwe queried Kalua’s application for adjournment, arguing he was aware of the case the moment was hired by Chikwemba and therefore would have started preparing for trial then.

Magistrate  Nyimba however upheld Kalua’s application and adjourned the case to January 28th, saying “I will adjourn the case in order to allow counsel prepare. You never know they might think of dropping the charge”.

State has listed two witnesses, Chikwemba and a police officer who investigated the case to testify against Mponda 26, charged with Extortion contrary to Section 305 of the Penal Code, which he has since denied.

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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