The High Court in Blantyre has allowed late James Leonard Makhumula’s first son, Ganizani to commence contempt of court charges against Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale and Coroner, Principal Resident Magistrate Innocent Nebi for defying the court’s orders.
Ganizani through his lawyer, Ambokire Salimu were on Monday granted leave for an Order of Committal against the two- DPP and Coroner- for abdicating their statutory powers and for failing to allocate resources towards the conclusion of his late father’s inquest proceedings.
Last year Justice Sylvester Kalembera granted leave for Judicial Review in late Makhumula’s death inquest case, and subsequently issued an Interlocutory Mandatory Injunction against the DPP and the appointed Coroner Nebi.
The leave for Judicial Review for an order was in respect of the irrational and illegal actions of the Coroner Nebi for abdicating his statutory powers and that the DPP has been bias in omitting, for up to six years, to allocate resources towards the conclusion of the inquest proceedings.
The DPP and Coroner Nebi risk facing jail if found guilty; something which will surely baffle the legal fraternity considering the positions the two hold.
“The judge had to be convinced with our explanation for the application for leave for Order of Committal, and it was granted. The two respondents (DPP and Coroner) have hold offices of high repute and social responsibility and ought to be exemplary in edifying the importance of our courts by obeying court orders,” explained Salimu.
According to filed affidavit evidence in support of the application for the leave to apply for Order of Committal, the DPP is said to have failed to take control and direct proceedings of the inquest and
provide resources due to Cashgate cases.
However, Salimu dismissed the excuse, arguing “that explanation for his incitation in the inquest proceedings can no longer make sense in light of the time that has passed since the last court hearing”.
‘Order akin to Mandamus’
In March last year Justice Kalembera ordered the DPP to provide resources to have forensic analysis of the blood sample that was found in the living room of late Makhumula’s residence done.
Justice Kalembera further ordered the top prosecutor to bring before the Coroner Nebi remaining witnesses in the inquest particularly the police officer who is to tender the alleged suicide weapon, semi-automatic pistol, pending “the determination of the substantive Judicial Review proceedings.”
The court also directed the Coroner to take control of the inquest proceedings by giving the relevant orders and directives to the DPP to provide resources for the prompt resolution of the inquest proceedings.
Makhumula’s Death Inquest
Inquest into the death of one of the country`s well-known politicians and multimillionaire, James Leonard Makhumula was commissioned in 2008 after Ganizani and his siblings disputed the death of their father-alleged to have committed suicide in 2005.
Ganizani Makhumula and his siblings requested the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to commerce inquest proceedings to determine the cause of their father’s death due to suspicions as to how their step-mother, Hellen narrated the occurrence of his suicide.
Makhumula, a former cabinet minister in the 1994 multi-party cabinet of former President Bakili Muluzi, allegedly committed suicide at his home in Mapanga, Blantyre on Saturday 3rd September, 2005 by shooting himself three times in the head with his own pistol.
He gave no motive for the suicide but his wife Hellen told journalists then that Makhumula appeared depressed in the morning of the day of the incident, and that the suicide occurred while she was away visiting a sick relative at a certain hospital.
Since the commencement of the inquest, almost all witnesses have testified apart from the ballistic expert who is supposed to tender in court the alleged suicide weapon, semi-automatic pistol.
Some of the members of late Makhumula’s wider family have been disputing the alleged claims that their father committed suicide especially following the discovery of alleged blood stains on the
carpet in the living room of the deceased’s residence.
The alleged blood stains have been regarded as part of evidence disputing the alleged suicide claimed to have been committed in the bath room and not in the living room where the stains were uncovered.
Collected blood samples are waiting for forensic tests to be done in South Africa as the office of the DPP is failing to pay the hired pathologists, Dr. Zamalala and Professor Liomba to compile necessary
And several arguments have been raised during the inquest proceedings disputing the suicide claims, which include the type of the weapon used and the number of bullets fired.
Late Makhumula is alleged to have shot himself three times on the forehead using a Czechoslovakian made 9mm semi-automatic pistol- model 75B and serial number V8617.
However, according to report presented during the inquest proceedings by Officer In-Charge of Malawi police Criminal Investigation Department (Firearm and Ballistic Branch), it was extremely impossible for Makhumula to kill himself using the alleged semi-automatic pistol.
The Officer In-Charge argued that “It is impossible to shoot yourself on the forehead more than once as the firearm (semi-automatic pistol) requires pulling of the trigger on every discharge of ammunition.”
Another argument raised is that late Makhumula was right-handed, however he was found dead in his bathroom with the semi-automatic pistol in his left hand. Ganizani and his siblings, based on this
fact, argue that the whole scenario of their late father’s alleged suicide was staged.
Late Makhumula, popularly known as “Sir James”, was one of the founding members of the former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :