Zomba-based High Court Judge Redson Kapindu has ordered the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to obey court orders granted during the ongoing Judiciary support staff strike.
On the other hand, Kapindu has also asked judges and magistrates to explain reasons for presiding over particular cases amid the strike.
Zomba acting chief resident magistrate Jean Kayira asked the court to review the case, claiming that the magistrate court erred in granting Tebulo bail because it had no jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus applications (which mandates the prosecution to bring an accused person before court to be released unconditionally if detained without charge).
Kapindu said any order by the court during the strike should be enforced and if there are aggrieved parties, they should follow procedures to challenge such orders.
Said the judge: “The strike by support staff cannot be read to suggest that where the order is made in the absence of a striking member of the Judiciary support staff, such order is ineffectual. That is a wrong way of approaching court orders.
“Therefore, my direction is that all court orders, including orders granted during times when Judiciary support staff are on strike, must be respected and given effect.”
Kapindu presided over the criminal review cause no. 1A of 2014 without the presence of Judiciary support staff, but these were represented by an assistant registrar in the place of a court interpreter.
Reacting to the order and guidelines granted by Kapindu, Malawi Law Society (MLS) has commended the judge for the ‘activism’ which they say is a reminder of the important constitutional duties that courts have in delivery of justice.
During the strike, MLS has proposed to the Judiciary that the courts should be open for certain classes of cases such as applications for injunctions, applications for bail and probate matters, said MLS honorary treasurer John Suzi-Banda in an e-mail response to a questionnaire.
The Kapindu order follows a protection order, which a magistrate court in Blantyre granted to Peter Nambala against his wife Gloria Nambala pending divorce.
Another known order is that which chief resident magistrate in Lilongwe granted to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to continue freezing the accounts of Cashgate suspect Pika Manondo.