Kasambara’s conspiracy to murder appeal drags on: as Supreme Court adjourns the case to no fixed date

The hearing of a case in which the former Justice Minister and Attorney General Ralph Kasambara, Pika Manondo and Macdonald Kumwembe appeal against their convictions and sentences scheduled for next Tuesday November 4th 2021 at 09:00 am at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe has been adjourned sine die, the Court has announced.

In a notice of adjournment dated 25th October, 2021, which Nyasa Times has seen, the country’s highest court said the hearing of the appeal has been adjourned to a date yet to be fixed and no reason for the adjournment has been given.

Justice Minister Kasambara: Denies involvement

“Take notice that the Malawi the hearing of the appeal herein which was due on Tuesday the 4th day of November, 2021 has been adjourned to a date to be fixed,” reads the notice signed by the Registrar of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal.

Kasambara, a Senior Counsel, was convicted and incarcerated for conspiracy to murder while Manondo and former Malawi Defence Force Soldier Kumwembe were convicted of attempted murder of former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo.

High Court Judge Michael Mtambo convicted the three and sentenced Kasambara to 13 years, while Manondo and Kumwembe were handed a 15 years imprisonment with hard labour.

Dissatisfied with both the conviction and sentence Kasambara and his accomplices appealed the case to the Supreme Court and the former applied for bail pending the conclusion of the appeal case in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

On March 14 2018, Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Dunstain Mwaungulu released Kasambara on bail but could not release Manondo and Kumwembe on bail.

Retired Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Justice Dunstain Mwaungulu in granting Kasambara bail said the High Court ruling was contradicting in that it found Kasambara guilty of conspiracy to murder but acquitted him of attempted murder based on the same evidence.

Mwaungulu also argued that basing the conviction on call logs was wrong as the people involved in the calls could have been discussing other things.

Immediately after the ruling, Kachale asked the court to pend its decision to free Kasambara on bail but the court asked her to make a formal application.
The shooting of Mphwiyo in 2013 opened a can of criminal worms which resulted in incessant reports of massive plunder of government money, a historic money heist at Capital Hill dubbed, Cashgate.

The trial of a former Justice Minister and Attorney General came to a dramatic end on 24 August 2018 as the High Court in Lilongwe sentenced Ralph Kasambara to 13 years for conspiracy to murder Paul Mphwiyo, the former Budget Director at the Finance Ministry.

Kasambara’s courtroom defiance turned to dejection as he allowed himself to be handcuffed, a fate he had managed to avoid for the whole year-long trial, as he was led off to Zomba maximum prison for his jail time.

Ralph Kasambara is a Malawian lawyer, who served as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General since April 2012 and he also served as the former Attorney General under the administration of Bingu wa Mutharika during the early part of his DPP administration.

Thereafter, Kasambara, became the legal representative of the then Malawian vice-president, Joyce Banda as she fought to ascend to power after Bingu wa Mutharika died suddenly and his brother, Arthur Peter Mutharika and his blue-eyed henchmen tried to unconstitutionally wrestle power from her as a heiress to the throne.

One of the country’s brilliant legal minds, Kasambara had been a critic of the administration of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, who he served as his official legal advisor, being vocal about grounds for impeachment and commenting that “he wants to be a dictator.”

The once most powerful attorney in the land, Kasambara was arrested in February 2012, after thugs went to his office with petrol bombs in an attempted arson plot, he called the police, together with supporters and restrained the perpetrators.

Instead he was arrested for kidnapping and torture of the thugs, but he was later released on bail, and then re-arrested again over the faulty bail procedures.

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