Lawyer Mpaka ambushed, vehicle set alight

Blantyre-based legal practitioner Patrick Mpaka was on Thursday evening last week ambushed by unknown assailants who set alight his vehicle near his house next to Leader of Opposition’s and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president John Tembo’s residence in the suburban Nyambadwe Township in the commercial capital, Blantyre.

Mpaka, who is a senior partner at Destone & Company, confirmed in an interview with Nyasa Timesabout the incident. He said he was not aware of the motive of the assailants, saying it happened as if it were in a Hollywood movie, well calculated and executed. He sustained minor burns on his right arm.

Petrol-bombed: Lawyer Mpaka's car

He said the incident happened around 7 PM and he was driving when a suspected petrol bomb was thrown at the vehicle, a Nissan double cabin 3.0 registration number SA 4485, Double Cabin, Nissan 3.0. The damage the vehicle was so severe that it is beyond repair.

Mpaka’s high-profile clients include Mary Woodworth whose passport was recently confiscated by a Mulanje magistrate  and another legal practitioner, Khuze Kapeta.

A police source at Blantyre Police confirmed the incident and said investigations were underway.

According to a source within the legal fraternity, at the instigation of Malawi Law Society president Gift Mwakhwawa, Mpaka is suspected to be at the centre of mobilizing fellow lawyers to support the on-going strike at the Judiciary where support staff members are demanding improved perks.

“He has been coordinating lawyers’ action in solidarity with the judiciary support staff whose strike has paralyzed the judicial system and effectively denying the lawyers financial earnings in form of legal fees. I would not rule out that the incident on Thursday may be linked to his recent actions,” said a senior lawyer who preferred anonymity.

On Monday, the lawyers marched at the High Court in Blantyre in solidarity with the judiciary workers.

Mpaka’s incident on Thursday is the first involving a lawyer. However, there have been recorded cases of arson against suspected government critics including Reverend MacDonald Sembereka, a civil and human rights activist and the acting national coordinator of the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), a network of 91 local civil society and non-governmental organizations and also Executive Director of Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with HIV/AIDS (MANERELA).

He had been at the forefront of coordinating the nationwide protests in Malawi that took place July 20, 2011.

He was the target of an arson attack on September 10, 2011 where his house in Balaka went up in flames following a similar arson attack at the office of Rafiq Hajat’s Institute for Policy Interaction on September 3, 2011.

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