Civil society organization (CSO), Human Rights Ambassadors, has organized a demonstration march on July 7 in Lilongwe on selective justice in the Judiciary amidst high cost of living and devaluation of the kwacha.
The demonstration seeks “to push for justice in the Judiciary system to do with the case the 19-year-old Mussa John — who was given an 8-year custodial sentence for being found with cannabis while Harvey Milhade, Castel Malawi’s managing director — also found that he was cultivating the same illegal hemp — was just fined.
The CSO also wants to push for justice delivery on Norman Chisale, former chief of security for former President Peter Mutharika and also on business tycoon Choonara.
They are also to demonstrate to show their dissatisfaction on the delay to prosecute the case of the Republic v Kezzie Msukwa, who is answering allegations of corruption involving high profile suspect Zunneth Sattar.
“We demand to speed up all corruption cases [and that] all corrupt government officials be trialed on cameras/radios for the benefit of the masses.
“The CSO also contends that President Lazarus Chakwera should not hide behind his immunity as enshrined in the Republic’s Constitution.
The demonstration, scheduled from 10:00hrs, will start from Wakawaka M1 Road passing through Mchesi, Roundabout, Paul Kagame Road then to the Lilongwe High Court premises to hand over the petition to the Chief Justice.
“We thank you for your usual support and commitment to upholding human rights as provided in the Republic Constitution, subsidiary registrations and international instruments that Malawi is party to,” said the letter to Lilongwe District Council and copied to the Chief Justice and Ministry of Justice.
Meanwhile, an internal memo from acting Chief Resident Magistrate (South), Chisomo Msokera finds not defective teenager, Mussa John’s 8-year custodial sentence.
Dated June 27 under the subject ‘Confirmation and Supervisory Review of Sentencing in Rep. v John (criminal case number 475 of 2022) and Rep. v Milhade and another criminal case number 567 of 2022’), the memo takes cognizance of the hot debate that ensued soon after John’s conviction.
“The social media is awash with debates on the propriety of an 8 years imprisonment sentence imposed on a 19-year-old convict on a charge of possession of cannabis sativa.
“There have been questions on whether the punishment meets the demands of distributive justice since retributive sentence appears, as some claimed, off tangent some of the sentencing trends by the magistracy where fines and not custodial sentences have generally imposed.
“One of such cited cases is Rep. v Milhade and another criminal case number 567 of 2022 where the convicts were sentenced to pay a fine of K1 million and in default to serve custodial sentence of 12 months on a charge of cultivating cannabis sativa.”
Msokera observed that the case of the teenager was heard in chambers of the Senior Resident Magistrate Court because there is no designated court room space at Limbe Magistrate Court but the chambers were used as open court.
“The charge is defective as it cites a wrong punishment provision and does not cite the statute book where the offence is provided for. Section 19(1)(a) and not section 16 of the Dangerous Drugs Act is the appropriate punishment provision; and the offence is created under the Dangerous Drugs Regulations.
“The Judgement on Sentence gives reasons as to why, not withstanding the dictates of Section 340 of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Code, the convict deserves an outright custodial sentences.”
“Msokera also observed that “the Judgement on Sentence took into consideration the mitigating circumstances of the convict being a young person” and that “other than the irregular charge, this was a proper matter which should be forwarded to a superior court strictly for proceedings of review on confirmation under section 15 of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Code”.
“Other than what I have specifically highlighted herein, the rest of the proceedings — as far as the court record is concerned — does not strike me as defective.
“In view of the cited irregularity and considering the perceive injustice of the sentence as it relates to Milhade and another, Msokera thus invokes section 26(1) of the Courts Act in asking for a “superior court to exercise its supervisory powers in addition to the review on confirmation proceedings over both matters”.
“It is my hope that the process of supervision and review on the confirmation by the High Court shall enrich our sentencing jurisprudence to aid the courts of magistrates in meting our appropriate sentences in cases of this nature.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :