Lilongwe businessperson William Mark Phiri, who allegedly murdered his lover Waheeda Bagus, 23, has been released from prison on bail prompting the victim’s family to demand speedy trial and ensure the case reaches its logical conclusion.
The 37-year-old Phiri of Mak Construction shot his ‘baby mama’ Waheeda on December 15 2019 in Lilongwe and died at Kamuzu Central Hospital a few days later aged 23.
Bagus family were incensed with the release of Phiri, who has been on remand for more than a year and has been throwing parties in the capital city Lilongwe to celebrate his gaining of liberties.
Late Waheeda’s aunt Fernanda Mussa Omar said it was heart-breaking that Phiri was roaming in the streets freely and that he is “ a threat to our family and to everyone…”
She said Waheeda was killed brutally “and we are still grieving for her.”
Private practice lawyer and former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Ishmael Wadi took to his Facebook page demanding justice for Waheeda, said he was concerned that Phiri’s release stall the case.
“From experience as a defence lawyer and a prosecutor, when accused people are released on bail, what follows is a delayed trial and a delayed trial is basically a delay of justice. This has been a common practice for a very long time,” he said.
Wadi said although the law sets time limit as to when a murder suspect can be on remand, “the general principle has been that they are detained and answer the charges from remand”.
The private practice lawyer, who was the country’s top prosecutor between 2004 and 2006, said he has since appealed to Judiciary to treat the case as a priority.
“This is a case that generated public concern and outrage. So, we ask the High Court to set up a speedy trial,” said Wadi.
Phiri, who is known in Lilongwe for having multiple co-current sexual partners, was released by Justice Lovemore Chikopa of the Supreme Court who based his decision on Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code, which sets time limits as to when an accused can be detained without trial.
Justice Chikopa also makes a reminder that “an accused is presumed innocent and that an accused must never be remanded in custody as a form of punishment.”
However, Chikopa imposed bail conditions for Phiri which include a K2.5 million cash bond; two sureties of K1.5 million non-cash bonds, surrendering his travel documents and reporting to Lingadzi Police Station every fortnight.
Phiri has a strong defence lawyers who include Zwelithini Chipembere, Manuel Theu and Edgar Kachere.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :