President Lazarus Chakwera has bemoaned the rising cases of mob justice in the country, saying they pose a threat of turning Malawi into a lawless nation.
The President said this Saturday at Kamuzu Place in Lilongwe where he presided over the swearing-in ceremony of new Chief Justice Rizine Mzikamanda and the seven newly appointed judges of the High Court.
Chakwera said the escalation in cases of people taking the law into their own hands against crime suspects demonstrates the frustrations that the citizens have with the justice system.
“I am greatly concerned that there is a spirit of mob justice threatening to turn this country into a lawless one. This is evident from the many occasions on which citizens have taken the law into their own hands and punished suspects of crimes by disgracing them, shaming them, beating them and even killing them, all without their guilt being established by an investigation,” he said.
The Malawi leader then challenged the men and women of the bench to remain steadfast in correcting the anomaly fairy, professionally and speedily.
“These expressions of mob justice are a sign that the Malawian people feel frustrated by the slowness, unfairness, and inefficiency of the justice system, which includes both the way cases are investigated, tried and disposed of,” Chakwera said.
Speaking in a separate interview, Mzikamanda said speedy trial of cases is one of his priorities apart from fighting the perception of corruption in the Judiciary.
“I am taking up a challenge; it is a huge one but I am ready for it. Fighting delays in the courts is one of my priorities and I do intend to tackle that head on. There are also various challenges that the Judiciary is facing and we would like to deal with that also,” he said.
He has since disclosed that processes are underway to take a Bill to Parliament for legislation, to enable the establishment of the Financial Crimes Court.
On what he expects from the seven new judges, the Judiciary chief said they will help in the delivery of justice despite that there is need for more of them.
The judges are Gladys Gondwe, Chimbizgani Kacheche, Dick Sankhulani, Patrick Chirwa, Rosemary Kayira, Bruno Kalemba and Gloria Nomonde.
Nzikamanda was appointed Chief Justice following the expiry of the term of Andrew Nyirenda who had reached the mandatory retirement age of 65.
Since joining the Judiciary in 1983, Mzikamanda has held positions in various judicial offices until he was appointed judge of the High Court in 1997 and later Justice of Appeal in 2012.
Before being appointed judge, he served as a Resident Magistrate, Principal Resident Magistrate, Chief Resident Magistrate, Deputy Registrar and Senior Deputy Registrar of the High Court.
He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Malawi and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Hall, England.
He was at one time seconded to the Anti- Corruption Bureau as director-general for two years.
Justice Mzikamanda has conducted research and presented papers at local and international forums on the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law.
In his revised paper titled ‘Some thoughts on effective strategies for combating corruption in Malawi Judiciary’, which he presented at a conference in Mangochi in January 2016, Mzikamanda argued that combatting corruption requires a robust and independent Judiciary of impeccable integrity as a guardian of democracy and rule of law.
“Lack of judicial transparency can create opportunities for judicial corruption and erode public trust,” he said in the paper.