It came as a big shock that some people were attempting or attempted to bribe the five High Court judges, currently seating at constitutional court. What was more shocking was that the one to report this crime was no lesser mortal, the Chief Justice himself.
To ice the cake, or is it adding salt to the injury, the corruption busting body czar confirmed the allegation albeit, timidly, refused to disclose the names of those implicated.
Of course, despite all his justification, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General (DG) was roasted, his credential questioned by the high court of the social media. He stood his ground.
ACB boss told the impatient Malawi citizens that he could not just mentioned names of the accuser and the accused because it was not legally right.
Being pushed to mention which side of the divide—ruling and opposition—were the efforts to bribe the judges came from. His answer was both sides.
In his breakdown ACB boss told the general public that the Chief Justice (CJ) lodged a complaint verbally to him that he heard from some of the judges that there was an attempt to bribe the judges.
The DG met the CJ in person and he was told the circumstances surrounding the allegation of the bribe. The CJ probably mentioned names of the judges approached and the people that approached the judges (the suspects), may be even the amount offered.
Matemba was satisfied that a crime has been committed and he asked the vulnerable CJ to put the allegations in writing.
The head of the Judiciary decided, in his official letter of complaint, to skip the names of the judges, names of the suspects and even an amount. The letter that Matemba displayed to the public was nothing but a skeleton.
The Chief Justice was given an opportunity to put his allegations in writing, the CJ could have detailed the allegations including names and amount and also officialising the complaints and the accusations. He chose not to.
It is understood that ACB can receive complaints in various forms including verbal but the nature of the case and the stature of the office making the allegation, the expectation could have been that the letter of complaint could have been detailed and conclusive.
The CJ’s letter to ACB had no details. Strange!
However, ACB boss thought it wise to act upon the verbal complaint—which is legally right. He asked the judges mentioned in the verbal complaint to give sworn statements.
Strangely ACB czar never saw the judges as possible candidates for investigations.
The basic understanding is that it takes two to tangle. Could be that Matemba never thought of putting the judges under microscope?
Or did he? At least he has never disclosed that he was also investigating the judges.
If the one to pay corruption is guilty, the one to receive is equally guilty. In this case all the five judges could have been investigated to conclusively remove any doubt that they were accomplices.
This case, if at all it happened, is a case of fraud and obtaining money by false pretence. What is so clear is that corruption never took place. No person approached the judges and offered them money. There is no evidence to this fact, so far.
What we hear is that one or two of the honourable judges were approached and a claim was made to them that they were supposed to receive some dough or whether they received the money or indeed if they were demanding more money. We are told this surprised the judges, meaning nobody had offered them any bribe.
This could have end to the whole saga. Why? Because nobody had approached or gave them a bribe, but the judges decided to reported the matter to Chief Justice.
The Chief Justice reported the matter to ACB and corruption case commenced.
The question is which judge or judges were approached and offered a bribe? The answer is none. The judges heard that they were supposed to be given a bribe—speculation. The judges, without any supporting any evidence apart from hearing that they were supposed to receive a bribe, report the matter to CJ.
The Chief Justice also speculated to ACB Czar and based on this hearsay, he takes action—not investigating but effecting an arrest.
There is no murder without a dead body and without murder weapon.
The ACB acted in the same manner which villagers act when they suspect someone to be a witch. Kill.
Corrupting judges is a high crime misdemeanor.
It could have been thoroughly investigated before any attempt to make an arrested was made. ACB could have established a crime beyond the mere speculation that the judges were supposed to be offered a bribe. ACB could have gone beyond the judges sworn statements and could also have been obvious to the fact that the judges could have been accomplices and worth to be candidates for investigations.
ACB went for a low laying fruit. The mere mention of names was not enough evidence for an arrest.
Investigators are trained to doubt every story line. Doubting is a basis for further inquiries, this does not seem to have been the case in this scenario.
A more worrying element in this whole saga is the style the judges handled the matter. We hear even before they reported the matter to the Chief Justice, they had set a kangaroo court and invited the suspect to squeeze a confession.
The innocent civilian was not accorded any legal representation before the highly trained judges.
Law is said to be fair or it is suppose to be seen to be fair. What the learned judges did was not fair at all. This was callous on their part.
The picturesque of this whole case does not point to fairness. The manner the whole matter has been handled, from the chief justice to the judges, to ACB and to the magistrates does not give confidence to the legal system in Malawi.
The failure to offer fairness is the failure of justice. The judges’ mafia style of squeezing information out of an unrepresented civilian is to be condemned and calls for a mistrial of the whole case.
This whole shenanigan only points to one fact that our judges are susceptible to bribes.
These are the people to be investigated and possibly thrown into jail.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :