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Anti-Corruption Bureau to contest Kezzie Msukwa order

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Kezzie Msukwa

The Anti-Corruption Bureau is today expected to file papers challenging a High Court order that stopped it from arresting Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa, ACB Director General Martha Chizuma said this to The Daily Times Tuesday.

This is happening at a time the Judiciary has indicated that the High Court is yet to set a date for hearing the case.

Registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Gladys Gondwe said this three days after the High Court sitting in Zomba stayed both Msukwa’s arrest and detention by the ACB.

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In her ruling, Judge Zione Ntaba transferred the matter to Lilongwe Registry citing good case management.

Msukwa was arrested on allegations of corrupt practices in relation to how Zuneth Sattar acquired plots of land but High Court Judge Zione Ntaba, sitting in Zomba, stopped the arrest for, at least, seven days after being moved by Msukwa, who also applied for leave of judicial review on his arrest.

However, Chizuma told The Daily Times yesterday that the bureau would be asking the High Court sitting in Lilongwe to discharge the order.

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“We hope to file our application to discharge the Zomba order today [Tuesday] or tomorrow [today] at the High Court in Lilongwe,” she said.

On Saturday, Chizuma told The Sunday Times that the bureau did not agree with the determination of the High Court sitting in Zomba despite complying with it.

“Since we do not agree with it, we are working on having it discharged,” she said.

Ntaba’s order suspending the arrest of Msukwa drew mixed reactions from the general public.

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) also faulted the judge, saying the order ought not to have been given.

In a statement, which president Patrick Mpaka and Honorary Secretary Chrispin Ngunde signed, MLS said since Ntaba refused to determine the main application, which was the application for the leave of judicial review, she should not have granted the order to stay the arrest.

“The Law Society observes that the public is concerned with the way the court has dealt with and decided the issues of stay. The Law Society shares in the public concerns. Given that the court has not decided the first question (i.e. to grant or not to grant leave for judicial review), there appears to the Law Society no basis to deal with the conditional question of stay given that the ruling records that Mr Msukwa expressly asked for stay ‘if permission to apply for judicial review is granted’. And on that basis the Law Society is of the view that the court should not have proceeded to grant the order of stay,” the statement reads.

The society, however, said ACB should comply with the ruling for the time being but apply to the court to have it set aside, saying it had apparent errors on the face of it.

Law expert Kamudoni Nyasulu said the ACB could as well ignore the court’s ruling, saying it was illegal.

“The decision of the High Court purporting to suspend or stay the arrest of Kezzie Msukwa is, in legal terms, per incuriam, and, in common language, illegal. Since illegality is not enforceable, the Anti-Corruption Bureau is at liberty to ignore this court’s decision and, therefore, the ACB, the police and the prisons, whichever authority is holding Kezzie Msukwa, can refuse to release him on the basis of this court order.

“It is per incuriam because it ignores Section 6 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code, which requires that all criminal matters should be inquired into or otherwise dealt with in accordance with the said Code. The court in Zomba dealt with the matter as if it was civil,” he said.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that there was a security breach at the house of Chizuma a few days ago, where a laptop and a phone were stolen.

Asked if the devices contained critical information regarding the fight against corruption, Chizuma declined to comment on the matter, saying she could not comment on security breach issues in the news media.

Malawi Police Service spokesperson James Kadadzera referred The Daily Times to Central Region Police spokesperson Alfred Chimthere, who could neither confirm nor deny receiving a report of the incident.

“I will have to check and come back to you, probably tomorrow [today],” he said.

 

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