Mzuzu Cops granted High Court bail on 'murder'

The High Court in Mzuzu has granted bail to six Police Officers from Mzuzu Police Station who were arrested on April 18, 2012 in connection with the brutal death of Edison Msiska in Police Custody early this year because the State failed to avail itself for the bail hearing.

The suspects were not in court but were represented by their lawyer Victor Gondwe of John Tennyson and Associates.

The suspects are: Inspector Gertrude Mukhondya of Katutula village, Traditional Authority Mwaulambia in Chitipa District, Constable Bertha Mtandi Chavula of Mtandi village, Traditional Authority Mponela , Dowa district, Constable George Kamphe of Phetembe village, Traditional Authority Mponela, Zomba district.

Others are Constable Joel Kapunda of Chilumphala Kamanga Village, Traditional Authority Mtwalo in Mzimba district, Constable Lucious Mpakeni of Ganya village, Traditional Authority Ganya in Ntcheu district and Constable Victor Nsoloma of Nachamba village, Traditional Authority Machinjiri in Blantyre.

The Court further warned the State that the bail will fall out at the expiry of 90 days if the suspects are not brought for trial within the stated period.

Making the ruling on the bail application, Judge Dingiswayo Madise, noted that the State was served with summons but gave no reasons for their absence.

“Issues of bail are urgent matters as they attain on the liberty of individuals,” Justice Madise said.

“ The law on bail is straightforward. He who objects must prove and show cause why bail should not be granted. I am of the view that the six suspects will appear at their trial. I therefore release all the suspects on bail,” Madise ordered.

Bail Conditions

Each suspect to pay MK10,000 cash to the court.

Each suspect to produce one surety bonded at MK100,000 not cash.

Each suspect to report  to the Northern region Police Headquarters once every Friday.

Each suspect not to leave the country without the sanction of the court.

Each suspect to report for  trial a day before.

All sureties shall be examined before the High Court Registrar.

The Police Officers, all from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), sought the Court’s intervention after the Malawi Police Service refused to release them on bond saying the allegations were serious.

Possible Charges

They had their caution statements recorded on Thursday but are yet to be charged. Sources told Nyasa Times that the Officers will be charged with murder.

“It is up to the court to either reduce that to manslaughter or any other offense depending on the evidence brought before it,” the source said.

Msiska, a former Natural Resources College student, died on February 29 under mysterious circumstances.

But renowned Malawi Pathologist Doctor Charles Dzamalala, who was hired to do an autopsy, described Msiska’s death as the worst case of assault he had ever seen in his 13 year old career.

Cops  argument

In his affidavit in support for the bail application, lawyer Gondwe argues that the Police officers were not charged with any offense at the time of arrest.

Gondwe said the applicants had family obligations and work commitments adding that “most importantly they have served in the Malawi police service for a long period. Over eight years”.

He also said the fact they were all Malawi citizens and Police officers at Mzuzu Police Station makes them eligible for bail.

Gondwe further argued that there is no likelihood for the applicants interfering with investigations if they released on bail since the investigations that have led to their incarcerations were done by an Independent Committee for Police Officers from Police Headquarters in Lilongwe well before their arrests.

“After all the applicants are innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

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