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Lilongwe City Council U-turns on Area 18 case

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By Audrey Kapalamula:

Lilongwe City Council (LCC) has rescinded its decision to go for a full trial and reverted to court mediation in the case which Area 18 victims of water contamination are seeking compensation in the capital city.

Earlier, the court mandatory mediation collapsed after lawyers from the three parties, including Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) and Lilongwe Water Board (LWB), agreed that the planned mediation would flop.

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But Chancy Mwalubunju, Executive Director for Lawyers Forum for Human Rights representing the victims, said the council made a U-turn on the matter when the forum was processing to get consent to have the matter in court.

“After we got the documents for their consent to have the case on full trial, they got a piece of advice from their client to go back to the mediation arrangement,” he said.

Attorney General Charles Mhango is representing the Council. LCC authorities and Mhango were not available for a comment as went to press.

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Mwalubunju said the development means that LWB and MHC must follow the mandatory mediation.

“If there is no consent from both parties, the two institutions are supposed to appear before the court. Even though they have a different position from that of LCC, they still have to come for mediation,” he said

Mwalumbunju said the parties are waiting for the court to determine the date on which to proceed with the matter.

At least 1,300 people are seeking compensation from the three institutions after drinking sewer-contaminated water in July 2017.

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