Malawi Govt appealing on Magistrate ruling to refer perjury case back to High Court

The State is seeking an  appeal at the High Court  on the ruling the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court that the perjury case involving former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Peter Mutharika and three others should be referred back to Judge Ivy Kamanga of the High Court who is hearing other charges of treason.

The other accused answering the perjury charges are former chief secretary to the government Bright Msaka, former Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe and Jean Kalilani, who is also Democratic Progressive Party secretary general.

In her ruling made on Wednesday last week, which referred the perjury case against four of the 12 accused in the treason case back to the High Court, chief resident magistrate Ruth Chinangwa pointed out that the State cannot charge a defendant twice on the same facts.

But the State which was given 30 days to appeal, has indicated it will move the High Court to review Magistrate Chinangwa’s determination, arguing that the lower court ‘s ruling had errored on a matter of law.

Accused of wilfully giving  false evidence to the commission of inquiry : (L-R) Gondwe, Msaka, Mutharika
Accused of wilfully giving false evidence to the commission of inquiry : (L-R) Gondwe, Msaka, Mutharika

According to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Bruno Kalemba, the State —which has engaged three private practice lawyers to help it try the case with a huge legal bill running into millions—they want the High Court to determine the legality of some of the lower court’s findings.

“The State has thoroughly examined the ruling and it is our considered opinion that there are issues that need re-examination by the High Court to determine the legality and correctness of some of the findings made by the honourable chief resident magistrate,” Kalemba is quoted by The Nation.

“ We are examining options available to us on how to move the High Court to make such determination,” said Kalemba.

Prosecution team of two former directors of public prosecutions Fahad Assani and Ishmael Wad, and Ralph Mhone  has since  submitted a combined bill of K24 million for working on the case.


The four accused are alleged to have lied under oath and attempted to block Pres. Joyce Banda from ascending to the office of the president after the death of Pres. Bingu wa Mutharika in April last year.

Besides the four, the other accused in the treason case include former Cabinet minister Henry Mussa, former deputy ministers Nicholas Dausi and Kondwani Nankhumwa, former deputy chief secretary to the government Necton Mhura, former presidential guard commander Duncan Mwapasa and the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s former legal adviser Allan Ntata.

Whereas Mwapasa is yet to be charged, Ntata was charged in absentia as he is reported to be lecturing at a university in United Kingdom.

The 12 are facing different charges in relation to the roles they played during the death of Bingu wa Mutharika in April last year and in handling the transition. They are accused of trying to circumvent constitutional order to block Banda, Mutharika’s estranged State vice-president then, from ascending to the presidency after the death.

The arrests followed the release of a report by a Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Banda to investigate the death of the President and also issues surrounding the succession.

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