The High Court in Blantyre has dismissed a treason case against three senior opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP)officials.
Judge Healey Potani has dismissed the treason case of former party publicist Jessie Kabwila, MCP legislator Louis Chakwantha and member Ulemu Msungama after the State failed to provide evidence.
Malawi police in February 2016 arrested the three over an alleged WhatsApp discussion that the law-enforcers claimed was seditious.
Their arrests stirred controversy and almost derailed then Parliament proceedings as the two legislators- Kabwila and Chakhwantha- were arrested during sitting of the National Assembly, a development the Parliament’s Committee on Privileges condemned.
Kabwila was arrested at Germany Embassy where she sought refugee while Chakhwantha was arrested on his way from Parliament.
Despite the arrest and subsequently the accused given bail by court of law, the State failed to commence court proceedings on the matter, forcing the three through their lawyer, Gustavo Kaliwo to apply for the dismissal of the case.
And on Wednesday morning, Justice Potani upheld Kaliwo’s application and dismissed the case before cautioning the State from trumping up charges against its critics which eventually impact negatively on tax-payers.
State lawyer, Apoche Itimu told the court that they have currently no evidence against the accused.
Itimu did not object to Potani’s decision to discharge Kabwila, Chakhwantha and Msungama.
Potani has since ordered the State to foot all court’s costs relating to the case as the three are contemplating of filing for compensation.
He did not however rule out the possibility for the State to commence investigations on the issue in near future.
In an interview Kaliwo indicated that the decision to demand compensation would be made by his clients but bemoaned government’s continued stance of fabricating charges against the opposition.
“The court has dismissed the case. The State is at liberty to continue investigating the matter but they can no longer arrest my clients, as the court ruled,” explained Kaliwo.
“This ruling should act as a caution to government. Its waste of time; they wasted the accused’s times, and the case did not materialize. Public funds are just being abused for nothing. Such funds could be used for other purposes like buying drugs in hospitals.”
In reaction to the ruling Kabwila could not hide her excitement, praising both government and opposition members who comforted them during the arrest.
“Some government and opposition members offered us hope. We appreciate the support MCP supporters and all Malawians of good will offered. We have now managed to have this case behind us,” said Kabwila.
Kabwila was quick to point out that they will seek compensation for their arrest, arguing the treason charge has tarnished their image as both public and political figureheads.
“This case tarnished my image as a legislature, the image of my family which went through painful moments. Somebody has to pay for this. Its unfortunate they (State) are messing up with tax-payers’ money. But they have to pay and learn a lesson.”
She then warned government to stop fabricating charges against her anyhow, challenging she cannot be defeated easily.
“Before coming for me, learn your facts. It’s wrong to tarnish my image, know the rules of the game before coming after me. Whosoever did this must learn a lesson of never tarnishing people’s images. To be called treasonous it’s not child’s play,” she challenged.
Kabwila, Salima North West Parliamentarian, was once suspended as MCP executive member and has since been stripped off the position of party’s publicity secretary. She has been restored as party member but not as spokesperson for the party.
Chakhwantha is MCP Parliamentarian and also lawyer. He is also chairperson of Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee while Msungama is one of the key members of the party.
The court ruling has since given Msungama a relief to contest in Lilongwe City South East Parliamentary elections following the ruling by the Supreme Court that ordered for a re-run of 2014 polls in the constituency.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :