In a twist of events, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s case has hit a snag—again—after South Africa failed to bring witnesses as ordered by the court in its earlier ruling.
Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Steve Kayuni, asked the court this morning to, instead, allow the witnesses to testify through video conferencing.
Kayuni cited COVID-19 fears, availability of flights and costs of air travel as reasons for requesting for video conferencing.
However, Bushiri’s lawyer, Wapona Kita, objected to the application saying it is disappointed that after a whole month, the state has not brought witnesses from South Africa to testify as ruled.
Kita argued that “there is no legal basis for such an arrangement,” and that “any application that is not supported by any standing law should be thrown out.”
He noted that with the Malawi court sitting physically, it was a mockery for a witness in South Africa not to appear, adding: “It presupposes that here in Malawi we are careless.”
He added that “if there is a particular witness with COVID-19 it makes sense to go video conferencing.”
Kita argued: “But there is none among the witnesses, as presented in the affidavit, who has tested positive.”
According to Kita, there is no evidence before the Court to show that there is a witness with underlying conditions as presented by the State.
Kita further argued that the Court must be slow in entertaining State arguments of using COVID-19 as an excuse of not bringing witnesses.
He also trashed Kayuni’s argument that witnesses didn’t show up because of availability of flights and costs of air travel.
“There is no shortage of flights between Malawi and South Africa. My client’s South Africa lawyers are in the court today after using the same flights,” he submitted.
On the issues of flight costs, Kita wondered if the State implied that South Africa doesn’t have enough money to take care of the flight costs.
“The argument of the State presupposes those witnesses are poor people and that they will foot their own bills which is not the case,” he said.
Bushiri fled South Africa months ago, to seek justice before the Malawi courts over alleged money laundering charges after he was denied the same in South Africa.
According to Bushiri’s spokesman, Ephraim Nyondo, he thinks the trial is starting to mimic South Africa’s own process, where Prophet Bushiri was never brought before trial for over 3 years, with the state there changing goal posts on witnesses and evidence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :