Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa Tuesday threw out an application by the State to allow South Africa-based witnesses to testify virtually in the extradition case involving preacher Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary.
Chirwa said there was no legal basis for the court to allow virtual representation and that it has limited powers derived from the statutes.
He said the order remains clear and mandatory that the witnesses should be brought into the country to give their testimony physically.
Among others, the State argued it would be costly for the 10 witnesses to travel to Malawi and that, even in the event that resources for travelling were available, Covid restrictions would make it difficult for the witnesses to leave for Malawi.
One of the lawyers for the Bushiris, Wapona Kita, said the defence was ready for physical engagement with the witnesses in court.
“We were ready for the witnesses to come on the 4th of June to cross-examine them. Now that they said they should come in July, we are more than ready to face them when they come to Malawi,” Kita said.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Steven Kayuni, said the State respects the court’s ruling.
“It is a court order and it has to be respected; we have to go by the dictates of the order,” Kayuni said.
He said Malawi and South Africa will have to discuss and make logistical arrangements for the witnesses to come.
The South African government wants Bushiri and his wife to be extradited to that country to answer multiple charges.
The extradition process started in December last year and the court has since adjourned the case to the second week of July.
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.