Former director general of state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Aubrey Sumbuleta, will have a public trial after the High Court dismissed the State’s application that the case be heard in camera.
Sumbuleta’s lawyer, David Kanyenda, had objected to the State’s application arguing that his client had nothing to hide.
High Court Judge Redson Kapindu threw out the State’s application on Thursday on grounds that Sumbuleta had a constitutional right to public trial and, also, that the allegations against him were serious and had brought about public interest.
“The complainants did not provide evidence about social media posts that they were being ridiculed as argued by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steve Kayuni during arguments,” Kapindu said.
Nevertheless, the Court granted the State some witness protection measures in which witnesses would be testifying behind a screen so that they are not visible to the public. They would also be accompanied by friends or relations to provide support.
The Court also ordered elimination of any information identifying the victims in the court record and the State would have to come up with pseudonyms for victims’ reference.
Judge Kapindu adjourned the case to Monday, October 25, 2021 where Sumbuleta is expected to take plea.
Sumbuleta was earlier this year arrested for alleged sexual assault and the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate, Patrick Chirwa, formally charged him with six counts.
Chirwa also committed the matter to the High Court following a request by the state.
Prosecutor Cecilia Zangazanga argued that the High Court would be best placed to hear the matter because of “its nature.”
According to the charge sheet, the counts border on indecent assault and abuse of office.
Sumbuleta is alleged to have committed the indecent assault crime in 2010 while working as deputy Director of Information and the same crime to two female employees while at MBC as director general.
The other three counts border on abuse of office while he was on the positions in 2010 and 2014.
Sumbuleta was arrested at his home in Mpingwe Blantyre following Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) investigations into alleged reports of sexual harassment.
In the report, MHRC recommended compensation for the four victims who willingly testified before the enquiry and reportedly suffered injustice and that Sumbuleta should be prosecuted accordingly.
The report found that the female employees were assaulted on different occasions and places by the accused who denied all the charges.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :