State broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has agreed to pay K50 million as an out-of-court settlement with four former female employees who were abused by former director general, Aubrey Sumbuleta.
Sumbuleta was arrested in April, after a Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) investigation into alleged reports of sexual harassment faulted him on his alleged conduct of sexual abuse and abuse of office.
The former employees were being represented by MHRC and Women Lawyers Association (WLA).
According to a statement from WLA, the women who were sexually assaulted by Sumbuleta at MBC have reached a settlement agreement to the sum of K48, 857 ,246 which covers pain and suffering as well as financial loss.
“MBC has also awarded the women costs at K2 million. Two of the women that left MBC because of Mr. Sumbuleta’s conduct have been reinstated with effect from 1st July 2021,” said the statement.
The four women were represented by Dr. Bernadette Malunga, Dr Ngcime Mweso, Chisomo Kaufulu, Gloria Mbendera, Chikondi Chijozi and Hilda Soko from WLA.
The lawyers represented the women throughout the Human Rights Commission hearings up until the negotiation processes that led to the successful settlement.”
“This is good news for the women and for WLA. WLA continues to give hope to Malawian women and children by ensuring that their rights are respected,” WLA board chairperson, Maureen Kachingwe said.
In April, the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court charged Sumbuleta with three counts each of indecent assault and abuse of office in relation to sexual harassment of female employees.
He appeared before Chief Resident Magistrate (CRM) Patrick Chirwa where the State made an application to have his case committed to the High Court.
However, before ruling on the application, Chirwa read out the charges against Sumbuleta who is accused to have sexually abused female employees at MBC and the Ministry of Information.
On the first count of indecent assault, Sumbuleta on February 4, 2010 in Lilongwe allegedly assaulted an employee at Ministry of Information where he was working as deputy director of Information.
On the second and third count of indecent assault, Sumbuleta, in 2014 while working as MBC Director General, is accused of having assaulted two different female employees in Blantyre.
He is also answering three counts of abuse of office. The first count is in relation to the sexual harassment that occurred at Ministry of Information while the other two counts of abuse of office are in relation to the sexual harassment incidents that occurred at MBC.
Chirwa committed Sumbuleta’s case to the High Court.
“The court is satisfied with the application for committal by the State. The State has produced a certificate issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions [DPP]. The matter is, therefore, moved to the High Court to be handled by a judge,” he said.
Police prosecutor Cecilia Zangazanga said the nature of the case compelled the State to have it transferred to the High Court.
She said the case would be prosecuted by the DPP.
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) conducted investigations into the matter but the women were represented by the Women lawyers Association.
MHRC Executive Secretary Habiba Osman in an interview yesterday lauded the Women Lawyers Association legal counsels for their hard work, resilience and dedication for justice and the rule of law.
Said Osman:”We are happy that the women have been compensated, half of the job is done and we are looking forward for justice to be served.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :