The murder case involving Malawian businessman Misozi Chanthunya is still yet to kick off with Malawi Government looking up to the South African Government for a way forward in extraditing the accused.
Chanthunya has been fighting against his repatriation from South Africa to Malawi to face murder charges following the killing of his pregnant girlfriend from Zimbabwe, Linda Gasa in September 2010.
The murder case is one of the many cases raising questions on the effectiveness of the country’s judicial system.
Among other popular cases include that of the K1.7 billion fraud trial of former President Bakili Muluzi, former vice president Cassimu Chilumpha’s treason after he was accused of trying to kill former President late Bingu wa Mutharika when he (Chilumpha) was his vice President and Robert Chasowa cases.
Explaining the delays on the cases and in particular on Chanthunya’s, Ministry of Justice spokesperson Apoche Itimu said Chanthunya’s case is an ongoing process which would one day be completed.
“We are currently still liaising with our South African counterparts who recently asked for further information, which we provided. We are now waiting to hear from them on the next steps,” Itimu said.
She admitted that there were delays in the delivery of justice in the country but said the proble was that the criminal justice system involves many key players and delays are not always caused by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“We are however pleased to advise that there is a new case management system being implemented by the European Union in government which will significantly address the issue of delays,” she said.
Itimu added that the delays in prosecuting do not necessarily affect evidence but conceded that may affect the victims who would “understandably want to have a speedy disposal of their cases”.
She also disclosed that the cash-gate cases, in which Malawi lost billions of kwachas through loopholes in its financial management systems, are currently of the utmost priority.
Observers have noted that the judicial system in Malawi is operating at a ‘super’ slow pace leaving the accused in several cases in a shadow of suspense for many years.
Yasini Domasi of Legal Aid disclosed that the delays have seen many cases being thrown into the dark room at the courts because their life span expired.
“We have some cases whose judgment was prepared many years ago. There are some cases whose presiding judges passed away while some cases wait for applicants to push,” he explained.
Lawyer Cassius Chidothi said the nature of the case plays a vital role in how fast it could be concluded.
“Some cases require the applicant or respondent to apply for preliminary hearings before determination of the main matter begins. At times the judge is sick and such factors contribute to the delay in conclusion of cases. Some cases are so complex in nature demanding evidence and witnesses from within or outside the country,” Chidothi said.
He said despite the dynamics in the judiciary, cases are supposed to be decided within a reasonable time so that people involved should know their fate.
Political analyst Boniface Dulani said it is better for the accused at times to be acquitted or to be convicted rather than living in a shadow of uncertainties.
Dulani said it was unfortunate that some of the cases that tend to delay involve politicians creating the impression that politicians sometimes are above the law.
“Some people stay in prison on remand indefinitely as if they were already found guilty. The judiciary has actually argued that there are not enough judicial officers’ to attend to all these cases but it’s important that justice needs to roll at a much faster pace,” Dulani explained.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :