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High Court adjourns Martha Chizuma case

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The High Court in Lilongwe Friday adjourned to May 20, 2022 a case in which Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Martha Chizuma is seeking review of a court order which was made against her in Mzuzu over a leaked audio clip.

On April 7, 2022 Mzuzu Senior Resident Magistrate (SRM) Godfrey Nyirenda ordered the Director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) in consultation with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to carry out investigations to ascertain authenticity of a leaked telephone conversation between Chizuma and another person.

Last week her lawyers, who include Martha Kaukonde, applied for a criminal review, further to obtaining a court order against Nyirenda’s ruling and the planned interrogation of Chizuma by police which had been scheduled.

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When the case went for hearing before Justice Annabel Mtalimanja Friday, DPP Kayuni asked for more time to review the case file from Mzuzu.

“The DPP asked for ample time, indicating that they only received the case file from Mzuzu on Friday so they need time to prepare for the hearing of the matter; so, the court has adjourned the matter to May 20 at 9:00am,” Kaukonde said.

She said their team, which comprises Senior Counsel Modecai Msisha, Innocentia Ottober and some members of the Women Lawyers Association, was ready for the case.

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“What this means is that the stay order which the court granted last week remains in force. The other party has to be given an opportunity to file their documents so that the case can be decided on its merits,” Kaukonde added.

This comes at a time when Justice Mandala Mambulasa in Blantyre is yet to decide on an application brought before him by the Malawi Law Society (MLS) in which they are seeking a judicial review of SRM Nyirenda’s decision.

Led by their chairman Patrick Mpaka, the MLS contends that Nyirenda did not have jurisdiction over the matter in which his court failed to establish a case but decided to side with the applicant, Frighton Phompho, by ordering for investigations into the leaked telephone conversation.

In a sworn statement, Mpaka also argues that the order was unlawful and unjustifiable.

“The respondent has failed to provide and record reasons justifying the order he has made, the respondent has failed to discharge his constitutional and statutory mandate and therefore his decision is unjustifiable, unreasonable…,” reads the statement in part.

Chizuma courted trouble in January when a telephone conversation, allegedly of her and an unidentified man, went viral in which, among other things, she complained about the challenges her office is facing in the fight against corruption.

This led private citizen Phompho to commence a case against Chizuma in Mzuzu, alleging that the ACB boss was in violation of the law by allegedly discussing her office business with a third party.

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