The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has ordered Malawi Government to pay K200 million to a Malawian whose father’s property was forfeited during the one-party era in 1976.
An 11-member panel led by the court’s president Imani Aboud, which made its decision on June 23, also ordered Malawi to pay the applicant, Harold Mbalanda Munthali and his eight siblings, K1 million each as moral damages.
The court, established under the African Union, learnt during the hearing in Arusha, Tanzania that the Malawi Government forfeited property that included lands and houses and some movables belonging to Harold’s father, a wealthy businessperson, and at the time of his death in 2010, he had only managed to recover part of the property.
Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the case whose complaint was lodged in 2017.
Malawi representatives that defended the case were Ministry of Justice senior State advocate Lumbani Mwafulirwa alongside Ministry of Foreign Affairs chief legal officer Mabvuto Katemula and principal legal officer Oliver Gondwe.
Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda in an interview yesterday admitted he was served with a copy of the judgement, but said he needed time to go through it before his office take steps or competently respond.
The court stated that the initial amount the applicant put was $1 104 539.87 (over K600 million at the current exchange rate), representing the loss suffered by the deceased, their father, as a result of the forfeiture of the property.
Reads the court order: “Against [several] considerations, and in the interest of justice, the court awards the applicant and other dependants of the deceased the amount of K200 million for material prejudice on account of the movable properties and loss incurred from the deterioration of houses returned in a dilapidated state.”
For moral damage, the court further awarded K1 million each to Harold, Margaret Munthali, Samuel Munthal i , El l iot Munthali, Davie Mwamvani Munthali, Mwanjezga Munthali, Yawelera Munthali, Eniferg Munthali and Fikani Munthali.
But the court dismissed a prayer by the applicant, who wanted the Malawi Government to pay costs for the case, ordering each party to bear its own costs.
According to the government, the rights alleged to have been violated were guaranteed by the Constitution, and the Constitutional Court was empowered to enforce them if seized by the applicant as it did in several instances.
It further argued that the applicant ought to have appealed the High Court’s decisions before the Supreme Court of Appeal instead of prejudging the outcome of the proceedings before the latter.
Government argued the applicant failed to demonstrate that the appeal before the Supreme Court of Appeal did not offer any prospect of success