Some Malawians have raised serious questions about the integrity of the information gathered by the Commission of Inquiry into the puzzling death of University of Malawi student Robert Chasowa in 2011.
The development follows shocking revelation that ruling Peoples Party’s (PP) member Humphrey Mvula falsely testified when he appeared before the commission last year.
President Joyce Banda appointed the commission a few weeks after taking over government last year in order for the nation to apparently know the truth surrounding the student’s murder.
Unfortunately, Mvula is alleged to have “deliberately gave fictitious information” to the commission, a development some quarters want responsible arms to take action.
The former United Democratic Front (UDF) strategist, volunteered to testify before the commission but ended up lying under oath.
According to a report released by the commission in September last year, Mvula testified before it that officers from Malawi Police Service (MPS) hand a hand in the murder of the University of Malawi student.
He went further to give specifics in his testimony by mentioning Sub-Inspector Harry John Yuda as one of the officers assigned to assist the civilians who assassinated Chasowa.
But information emerged that the police officer Mvula mentioned in his testimony died in 2006, five years before Chasowa’s death, a development confirmed by both the deceased family and the Malawi Police Service.
“I have made inquiries there is no other John Yuda in the Southern Region serving in the Malawi Police Service. We don’t know how his name came up at the inquiry. It’s unfortunate,” Southern Region Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa was quoted by The Nation end last year.
Basing on this, some Malawians want Mvula to be investigated and prosecuted because he lied under the oath despite his claims that he got the information from a third party source from within the police.
“Laws are very clear on that, the man lied under oath and he must be prosecuted period. Ignorance is not an excuse, first of all if he volunteered to testify he was sure of what he was going to say. If he had some doubts the best was to make further verification before taking oath,” a legal practitioner at one of the private law firms in Blantyre told Nyasa Times.
He explained that Mvula ought to have known better that by taking an oath and making a declaration, he was guided by the law as it was a legal requirement.
“Lying under oath is a serious crime because taking an oath is a legal requirement which has penalties attached to it in case of violation and in this case Mvula committed a criminal offence under the Penal Code known as Perjury and Subordination of Perjury and is supposed to be charge accordingly,” justified the lawyer who did not want to be identified.
Underscoring the issue is a statement issued by the Malawi Law Society (MLS) last year which hinted that knowingly giving false testimony is a criminal offence.
The statement was issued after it was reportedly discovered that some witnesses who appeared before the commission willfully provided false testimonies hence calling for prosecution of such witnesses.
According to Section 104 of the Penal Code, any person who commits perjury or suborns perjury shall be liable to imprisonment for seven years.
Another commentator also speaking on condition of anonymity recommended to the relevant branches like Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and police to investigate Mvula because he violated the integrity of the information gathering process by the commission.
“For any commission of inquiry to come up with a fair conclusion it relies wholly on truth from witnesses. And if someone deliberately violates it the whole system becomes bogus as the jury cannot arrive at a reasonable conclusion and lead into wrongful arrests and convictions or acquittal,” he said.
Dean of Law at the Chancellor College, Dr Mwiza Nkhata, also said taking an oath or making an affirmation is a quest of searching sincerity and also trying to assure honesty in the testimonies.
“The essence, principally, is to achieve honesty, integrity and truthfulness in everything that is being testified. It’s a quest for those taking an oath to be truthful to the testimony and for those affirming to be honest,” he said.
Just like others, the law lecturer recommended the prosecution of anyone involved in perjury like Mvula.
“If it is in court, it’s either the judge is required to stop the trial to prosecute the perjury case first or he or she is supposed to institute a separate proceeding,” Nkhata explained.
President Banda instituted a commission of inquiry into the death of the Polytechnic fourth year engineering student, whose death on college campus in September 2011, was ruled as suicide by Police but an independent postmortem indicated he was bludgeoned to death.
The commission was chaired by Justice Andrew Nyirenda SC, while the members were Mary Mangwiza Manyusa, lawyer Paul Maulidi, Prof George Liomba, Sophie Kalimba,, Ben Mbewe and Administrator General Annabel Mtalimanja.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :