PP’s Chikwemba hires private lawyer to prosecute Malawi Voice journalist

The ruling Peoples Party (PP) deputy administrative secretary, Joseph Chikwemba has sought services of private lawyer, Chimwemwe Kalua to co-prosecute Justice Mponda, editor for online publication Malawi Voice, in alleged extortion case.

However, Kalua will have to wait for consent  from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to join the case, which has since been adjourned to December 11th, 2013.

State counsel, Jairos Chafunsa told the court when the case resumed  Monday morning that the DPP was yet to respond to Chikwemba’s request to have Kalua in the prosecution team.

Chafunsa then asked for 14-days adjournment while waiting for the DPP’s consent and to allow his office serve Mponda’s lawyer with disclosures.

PP’s Chikwemba: Wants private lawyer for criminal prosecution of journalist

But the move to have Kalua co-prosecute the case did not, however, amuse the court as both Senior Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba and defence counsel Chancy Gondwe wondered if Chikwemba has lost trust in the State Advocate lawyers.

“Does this mean that the complainant in this case has no trust in learned advocate?” queried Nyimba, who disclosed to have received a letter on the issue.

Gondwe also wondered if the coming in of Kalua would not leave the case in suspense since it was not known as to when the DPP will grant him permission to join the case.

“I have no objection to that since it’s the right of complainant to hire private lawyer if he doesn’t have confidence in State prosecutor,” said Gondwe.

Gondwe was however quick to warn the State that he would move the court to discontinue the case if it was not ready to commence trial by the time court resumes on December 11th.

Chikwemba has been listed as principle witness in the case in which Mponda, 26 is being accused of “Xxtortion” contrary to Section 305 of the Penal Code. He pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Mponda had spent four days in cooler was once charged with an offence of ‘Intimidating Royal Family’ and ‘Extortion’ but it was dropped for unexplained reasons.

Police arrested Mponda over a story which was in response to some out-bursts by the first son of President Joyce Banda, Geoffrey Kachale and her aunt Cecilia Kumpukwe who described Malawians as nonsense  and fools “Makape” through social media for speaking against the cashgate scam and linking it  to Malawi’s first family.

Mponda, on October 29th and November 1, 2013, is reported to have allegedly threatened Chikwemba–parliamentary aspirant for Zomba central constituency–to pay K500,000 or will publish several stories linking him (Chikwemba) and his political associates to massive theft of public funds known as the cashgate.

He was granted bail on November 5th after paying a bail bond of K10, 000 (cash) and provided two surety bonded at K10, 000 each.

Last year, Mponda was also arrested and charged for sedition and “insulting Joyce Banda” but he was later acquitted by courts after government’s failure to produce evidence.

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