Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has turned down the application which former president Peter Mutharika’s bodyguard Norman Chisale made, asking the court to restart hearing the certificate case.
The ex-Malawi Defence Force soldier is accused of using another person’s Junior Certificate of Education certificate to get recruited into the force.
However, Chisale pleaded not guilty to counts of impersonating a person named in a certificate, presenting false information to a public officer and intimidation.
Apart from asking for a rehearing of the case, the defence had further asked for the re-summoning of all witnesses in the case because, firstly, the case was transferred to another magistrate and, secondly, the charge sheet was amended.
Chisale appeared before the Chief Resident Magistrate for a fresh plea while the court was also expected to give directions.
The defence indicated that they did not anticipate that there would be some changes or amendments to the charge sheet and that, as such, there was a need to recall all witnesses.
One of the defence lawyers, Chancy Gondwe, said the amendments had given rise to significant changes that necessitated that Chisale be given the right to re-cross examine witnesses for a fair trial, describing failure to do so as “unjust and prejudicial”.
However, Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni opposed the submission by the defence, indicating that there was a need to demonstrate why the witnesses were supposed to be recalled.
Senior State advocate Pirirani Masanjala told The Daily Times after the proceedings that the State objected to the submission because there was nothing new that would come from recalling the six State witnesses.
“Our position was that, when the SRM [Senior Resident Magistrate] accepted, in January 2021, that the charge sheet be amended, the defence, subsequent to that, were already cross-examining on the new charges. So, there was no need to recall the witnesses,” he said.
The court has since given the State and the defence 14 days to make submissions as to whether Chisale has a case to answer.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.