Malawi judge Mwale censure lawyer Theu for sexist mitigation

Lilongwe High Court juddge Fiona Mwale on Friday censored private practice lawyer Manuel Theu, who was representing Cashgate convict Leonard Kalonga after making sexist remarks.

Judge Fiona Mwale: Highlighted the gender insensitive mitigation 

As the judge was about to sentence Kalonga, Theu raised an issue that the court should consider that the convict is a sole bread winner to the family because his wife is a ‘mere housewife.’

“Your Lordship, how do you expect a mere housewife to take care of a 22-year-old child who is learning outside the country, an 18 year old child who is about to enrol for tertiary education, a 17-year-old child who is also in school and others?” wondered Theu during mitigation.

However, this did not please the female judge who highlighted the gender insensitiveness of the mitigation factor from the defence.

“It is gender insensitive to say a mere housewife because it means the woman does not contribute anything in the family but I understand what the defence counsel was trying to say,” said Judge Mwale while passing sentence.

Theu apologized soon after the judge highlighted the issue.

The court sentenced Kalonga to seven and half years in jail.

Kalonga, a former tourism officer, was found guilty and convicted of conspiracy to defraud government using forged documents and paid the money to bogus suppliers.

Other charges included laundering of K520 million where he facilitated, abated and aided acquisition of six Scania Marcopolo semi-luxury buses on instruction from then Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo and laundering which were proceeds of serious crime between April and September 2013 with other persons to the tune of K3.2 billion.

The judge observed in her ruling: “The money was not earmarked for purchase of the buses and government must have had other pressing issues at the time. But credit must be given to the convict for making the job easier to trace the property.”

Kalonga changed his plea from not guilty to guilty to theft and laundering about K3 billion.

On the charge of conspiracy to defraud the government, Mwale sentenced Kalonga to one year, on facilitating money laundering, he has been sentenced to two years while on a money laundering charge he will serve a sentenced of seven years and half in jail.

The sentences will run concurrently, which means Kalonga will be in jail for seven and half years.

Among other things, Judge Mwale said the court considered different factors before coming up with the sentence.

“The convict has been cooperative, remorseful and restituted five vehicles and two houses to government totaling K72 million,” said Mwale.

The court also heard that Kalonga surrendered to the State some of his property, including two houses in Kawale valued at K19 million, a Range Rover, a Mercedes Benz and two Toyota Corollas.

Kalonga’s lawyer, Manuel Theu, said he will consult his client first on the way forward.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale said “we are satisfied” with the sentence.

She said: “People in suits and in high places are very smart, educated people but have become so smart in criminality. We are satisfied that finally justice has been done.”

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…and Goodall thinks he is too smart and untouchable in criminality at the treasury. Soon law will catch up with this chief thief who unjustly enriched MPs with tax payers’ money at the expense of public benefit.


Bravo Judge Mwale ! There is nothing “mere” in being a housewife! That is a full time job and some without vacation !!!! How about the fact that she carried those kids for nine long months, went through painful labor, gave birth to them, raised them well enough that they stayed in school while taking care of the cash-gate thief husband!!!………. What’s ” mere” about that Mr sexist Lawyer???

Peloma Pepe

So, even a lawyer doesn’t know that someone who is 18 years and above is not a child? Why calling a 22-year old a child? Why calling an 18-year old a child?

Dipipi wa Yudiefu

Fiona, not mere education but PhDs. Those who are not married should make sure that they marry mere housewives, it help them in Malawi courts later. We are seeing it.

Biti John

Who doesn’t know that kalonga’s wife runs a hearse business with modern vehicles ?
Ma Lawyer a pa Malawi bodza!!

Keen Observer

But what is wrong with that, by saying that one is a “mere house wife”?????? Everybody knows what that means. Most of our mothers don’t contribute financially in the families BUT there are other ways they contribute positively to the wellbeing of the families. So mostly when a father is not present, be it dead or gone away then it’s total problem. So I don’t see any offence by saying that & that’s how it is meant to be. A good husband must look after his wife & kids. In short his family.


wake up Keen Observer!! Mere house wife is insulting. Just looking after a child is a full time job! House maintenance is a full time job! Looking after the husband is a full time job! mere implies valulessness! which is not acceptable! It should never bee used in reference to hard working Malawian women who keep the family going just because he is the one earning an income. There is nothing “mere” about Mrs Kalong in particular she runs a business as well!!!


That is good and educative explanation, Nambewe.

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