Home » General » Review of 2016 Major Court Cases

The arrest and subsequent sentencing of former minister of justice Raphael Kasambara was undoubtedly the biggest issue of interest in the year ending.

Kasambara was sentenced by the High Court in Lilongwe to serve a 13- year jail term for conspiracy to murder former director of the national budget Paul Mphwiyo.

His accomplices Pika Manondo and Macdonald Kumwembe were given 26-year custodial sentences each for attempted murder and conspiracy to murder.  They indicated to appeal, but that has not been done yet.

In March 2016, we carried a story on the restart of a corruption case involving former Head of State Dr. Bakili Muluzi.

Dr. Muluzi and his ex-assistant Lyness Whiskey are until now answering corruption charges bordering on the misappropriation of K1.7 billion Kwacha. The amount was later reduced to K1.1 billion.

The state says Dr. Muluzi failed to properly explain how huge sums of money landed in his personal accounts between 1999 and 2004.

It is alleged that the money from various companies from within and abroad was deposited into Dr. Muluzi’s personal accounts during his reign as President of the Republic of Malawi.

As we speak Dr. Muluzi’s case is yet to be concluded at the High Court in Blantyre, a development which has prompted some quarters of society to suggest the corruption case shall face a natural death.

In November 2016, former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo pleaded not guilty to four cashgate charges involving theft of public money amounting to MK 2.4 billion.

Fifteen other accused persons also pleaded not guilty to several charges that include money laundering and public by servant.

However, businessman Stanly Ntambo pleaded guilty to the charge of swindling about K 80,000 and was eventually convicted. Judge Justice Esmy Chombo adjourned hearing of the case to 9th January 2017.

No doubt, cashgate cases made the most high profile headlines in the year ending. The case of former army commander, General Henry Odillo also took to the courts. Hearing of his K5 billion cash gate case commenced in November 2016 at the High Court in Lilongwe.

Odillo and five other suspects are answering the charge of misappropriating public funds. The money was allegedly misappropriated when General Odillo was in charge of the Malawi Defense Force in the period between 2012 and 2013.

Odillo joined the list of other former public service officials who are answering charges bordering on the plunder of public money between 2012 and 2013 in what is called cashgate.

 A good number of Police officers were also found on the wrong side of the law in 2016. Some in cashgate cases too.

On 8th Dec 2016, a magistrate court in Lilongwe found three senior police officers and a business man with a case to answer in a cashgate matter involving K45m belonging to the Malawi Police Service in 2011.

Some court documents indicated that the three-Vincent Nyondo, Elijah John Kachikuwo and Wilson Garnet Chandema paid 45 million kwacha to a company for goods and services that were never supplied.

The three senior police officers allegedly misappropriated money amounting to K45 million at the National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe between September and October 2011.

They are charged with money laundering, misuse of public office and theft by a person employed in the public service.

By then, Mr. Nyondo was working as an Inspector and Head of the Police Headquarters Treasury, while Kachikuwo and Chandema were among officers serving in the police treasury office.

It is alleged that the three connived to steal the money by paying Mr. Francis Kambova Mkwamba of Classic Motors for goods or services that were not supplied. The case continues in January this year.

Well, enough about cashgate…There were a lot more other cases that attracted public attention.  The Vincent Murekezi case is one.

The state prosecution team started the process of extraditing the Rwandese genocide convict in 2016.

Murekezi has been staying in the country using a Malawian passport he allegedly acquired through suspicious means.

News about his stay in Malawi was first reported by Zodiak in October 2016 in a story that was done by Jacqueline Nhlema.

Later, the Police arrested Murekezi and he was taken to the Lilongwe Magistrate Court same day.

Four days later the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions took over Murekezi’s case from the Central Region Police prosecution team. 

During Murekezi’s second court appearance, Senior Assistant Chief  State Advocate, Steven Kayuni, said the state wants the genocide convict to answer corruption charges related to a 2008 case before his extradition.

According to Kayuni, Murekezi jumped bail in the corruption case and went into hiding in Zimbabwe.

Later presiding Magistrate Patrick Chirwa gave the state 21 days to conclude its preparation to start the process of extraditing Murekezi.

In the year ending, the unprecedented and barbaric attacks on people with albinism were widely condemned by the general populace.

Some perpetrators of the insane attacks were seen in the courts.

Official records indicate 18 deaths were recorded in the past two years in connection to the attacks.

However, various quarters, including the Association of Persons with Albinism, expressed concern over delayed justice in the 18 cases.

Do you remember the name Vincent Wandale? I bet you do.

He is Peoples Land Organisation (PLO) leader and in November he was slapped with an 18-month suspended sentence by the Blantyre Magistrate Court for leading a campaign to seize land from estates.

The self proclaimed leader of the so-called Republic of Thyolo and Mulanje (MUST), districts located in southern Malawi, got the punishment on Tuesday 8 November.

Mr. Wandale was arrested early September 2016 after members of the PLO invaded Conforzi Estate to share among themselves what they described as ‘idle’ land.

Thyolo and Mulanje districts have vast tea estates, whose owners acquired them during the colonial era.

Mr. Wandale, a trained agriculturist, argues such land, especially parts that are not being used must be retained to the rightful owners – the people of Thyolo and Mulanje.

And how could we end this recap edition without Eric Aniva?

The man from Nsanje who was popularly known as the Nsanje Hyena was sentenced to serve a two-year and ten months jail term after been convicted for two offenses of engaging in harmful cultural practice and attempting to engage in harmful cultural practice.

Aniva was arrested after making a confession that he had slept with over a hundred women through sexual cleansing rituals in Nsanje District.

President Peter Mutharika ordered police to arrest the Nsanje Hyena.

As we start 2016, there are a number of cases to watch out for: the Kasambala appeal, remaining cashgate cases particularly that of Mphwiyo and others, the Murekezi extradition case, just to mention but a few. As your man at the courts, I hope to be there for you during these and more cases.