A prominent law professor has backed Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Reyneck Matemba for his decision not to bow down to public pressure to arrest suspects alleged attempts to bribe judges overseeing a legal challenge to the re-election last year of President Peter Mutharika.
South Africa-based Professor Danwood Chirwa said Matemba studied law and has long experience with criminal prosecutions.
“Arrest is for purposes of preventing a crime or trial, not just to detain people before trial. If the guy says he hasn’t completed the investigation, he has no legal need to arrest someone for the sake of it and then let them out within 48 hours because he doesn’t have a precise charge,” said Chirwa.
He said it is an abuse of the law to arrest merely on the basis of a complaint and before completing investigations, unless it is believed the suspect is reasonably likely to commit another offence of a similar nature or will interfere with the investigation.
Chirwa said Matemba is saving the country from chaos.
“The ACB will act in a few days,” Matemba told reporters on Thursday, promising Malawians would not be “let down.”
On Thursday people took to the streets in the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) organised protests after Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda charged that the five judges presiding over the case had been offered kickbacks.
The complaint, which was filed to ACB on Monday, prompted a call for demonstrations in Malawi’s three main cities. Around 50,000 people gathered in the capital, Lilongwe, with smaller rallies in Blantyre and Mzuzu. They braved the rain and stood vigil outside parliament. Many wore white T-shirts printed with “ACB name and arrest the bribers now.”
Opposition leaders say the May 21 poll, which saw Mutharika narrowly beat runner-up candidate Lazarus Chakwera, was marred by fraud.
In August, they petitioned Malawi’s top court to annul the results — the first time presidential election results have been legally challenged since the country gained independence from Britain in 1964.
A court ruling on the election challenge is expected by the end of January. The ACB aims to complete its probe before then.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :