Process to discipline magistrate, lawyer starts

The Judiciary says it has formally written the Malawi Law Society (MLS) and Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to launch disciplinary proceedings for private practice lawyer Lusungu Gondwe and Zomba principal resident magistrate Ben Chitsakamile.

The move is in compliance with an order High Court of Malawi Judge Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga, who faulted the manner the duo acted in quashing a warrant of arrest the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), had obtained for business mogul Thomson Mpinganjira.

Patemba: I have written relevant authorities

In a written response yesterday, High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Agness Patemba said relevant authorities were written to in line with the court order.

But she refused to give more details, saying: “I have written relevant authorities. You may wish to take it up with them.”

However, MLS honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde said the complaint against Gondwe would be referred to the society’s disciplinary committee.

She said: “We are yet to receive the said letter from the registrar. But once we get it, we will refer the issue to the disciplinary committee.”

Reacting to the development, Garton Kamchedzera, a law professor at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said if no one complies with the court order, it will be up to the interested party to push for its enforcement.

He said: “There are different ways of enforcing it like going for contempt of court. The law provides ways to make sure that the order is enforced or implemented, but it also depends on the vigilance of the interested party.”

In her order, Kamanga gave the registrar a seven-day ultimatum to communicate with MLS and JSC.

Chitsakamile issued an order at midnight on January 22 2020 to have Mpinganjira walk to freedom in the case he is accused of attempting to bribe the five-judge panel of the High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court in judgement over the presidential election petition case.

In her review of Chitsakamile’s order, Kamanga found it to be irregular and illegal on the basis that it was made without sufficient information, missing documents and that the magistrate did not scrutinise the same.

In addition, the judge said it was a kangaroo court as there were no records that lawyers appeared before the magistrate; hence, ordered that Gondwe and the legal firm Ritz Attorneys should no longer represent Mpinganjira in the criminal case.

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