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‘Contempt of court is serious offence’

Judiciary has said disobeying a court order is one serious offence which Malawians take for granted.

Judiciary spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, has said disobeying a court order, which is legally called contempt of court, is an example of summary offences in that once the evidence proves that a person has disobeyed the court, the court proceeds to make determination outright.

According to Mvula, when evidence shows that somebody is in contempt of court, there is even no time for the offender to defend themselves or use lawyers to defend them.

“However, apart from instances where a person has disobeyed the court whilst in courtroom, the courts can only take a person to task if some people who have observed that that particular person has disobeyed the court whether in action or words file contempt of court case,” Mvula said.

He was responding to a question on whether the court can singlehandedly move on to take a person who has defied its order to task.

Mvula’s comments come in the wake of Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda’s, actions to disobey the court order which Judge John Chirwa granted to some civil society organisations, stopping Chaponda from operating as a Minister to pave the way for investigation into Admarc’s Zambia maize deal.

Contempt of court is the offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers in the form of behaviour that opposes or defies the authority, justice, and dignity of the court.

It manifests itself in wilful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law, which is often behaviour that is illegal because it does not obey or respect the rules of a law court.

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