The Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe has acquitted former president Joyce Banda’s sister Cecelia Kumpukwe who was arrested on suspicion that she forged a resignation letter of Vice President Saulos Chilima.
Kumpukwe, alongside Stella Assani, Ackson Kalaile Banda and Stanely Mkwala, were being accused of authoring the letter in which Chilima purportedly expressed dismay at the way he was being treated in the Democratic Progressive Party and offered to step down.
Charges of creating a false document and publishing fake news likely to cause fear or alarm contrary to sections 353 and 60 of the Penal Code respectively were placed against the four, but eight months down the line, the state has failed to substantiate its case forcing the court to rule in favour of the four.
According to the court documents which we have seen, Senior Magistrate Chisomo Msokera made the ruling in Lilongwe on January 12 2018.
“Upon hearing both parties and upon considering the state’s delay to prosecute the matter, it is hereby directed and ordered that the four accused persons herein be and are hereby discharged from these proceedings,” reads Msokera’s ruling in part.
He has also ordered that all items that were seized from all the accused persons be returned immediately.
Kumpukwe said Thursday that she feels relieved but maintained that the arrest was politically motivated.
She disclosed that since the arrest, she and her family have suffered psychological, emotional and physical torture from various quarters of society.
“It was not easy for me, friends and immediate family members. Life almost came to a standstill as I could not travel since my passport was seized. My reputation has been damaged. So it feels good to be exonerated,” Kumpukwe said.
Asked on the next course of action, Kumpukwe said she will be consulting her lawyer but she, however, indicated that no one would get away with character assassination and defamation that was inflicted on her and the others.
“People’s perception towards me completely changed, I was defamed, anytime someone googles my name, it pops up in connection to the fabrication [of the letter], so it was bad. But for now, we want to ensure that we recover all the gadgets that were taken away from us,” she explained.
Kumpukwe also wondered why the ruling machinery continues to victimise and prosecute people connected to former president Banda.
Kalaile Banda, who is also deputy publicist for the People’s Party, also hinted at seeking legal redress on the matter.
This should, however, be cause for worry as government would spend millions of taxpayers’ money to compensate the quartet.
The state prosecution team was not available for comment as our calls went unanswered after several attempts.
But government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi refused to comment saying he had not yet seen the court order.
Dausi last year told the media that government had names and details of everyone behind the forged letter and was aware of everything that transpired.
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