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Linda Kunje’s driver to remain in prison

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Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda

By Isaac Salima

Attorney-General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda has disclosed that Jones Tewesa, who was a driver for former commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Linda Kunje, is not a subject for consideration for prison pardon.

Tewesa and Kunje were handed 18-month and 15-month prison sentences respectively for criminal negligence.

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Kunje was, however, released from jail during the festive season after being pardoned by President Lazarus Chakwera.

Commenting on why Tewesa is not pardoned too, Chakaka Nyirenda said Kunje was pardoned solely based on her poor medical condition apparently because she required urgent surgery.

“The driver has not yet met the pardon guidelines and, so, he has not been considered for pardon yet.” Chakaka Nyirenda said.

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The development has not gone down well with Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), which has been pushing for Tewesa’s release.

CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa expressed concern that “justice seems to be for the rich and politically connected people in the country”.

“The president should have pardoned the two to ensure that the issue is not misconstrued that the pardoned have money or are politically connected.

“This is a tricky issue because the two were answering and convicted of similar charges and to pardon one and ignore the other gives an impression of favouritism,” Kaiyatsa said.

Kunje’s release attracted mixed reactions from some quarters who questioned the rationale for the decision when she was just into a third month of her sentence.

But Chakaka Nyirenda, who is also a member of the committee that make recommendations to the President on who to pardon, said the pardon was done in accordance with the set guidelines.

He added that government is currently reviewing guidelines for the pardoning of prisoners in the country.

Chakwera pardoned 230 prisoners as part of Christmas celebrations and Kunje was on the list but got released earlier apparently because of her condition.

On the review of the pardon guidelines, Chakaka Nyirenda earlier said there are things that are coming up that require clarity on when and how the pardon should be done.

“You may wish to know that the pardoning is done by the President upon recommendation from an advisory committee. So, hopefully, in the next pardon, the new guidelines will be applicable,” he said.

Kunje and Tewesa were convicted on August 19 after the former Mec commissioner’s official vehicle, which was being driven by Tewesa, failed to give way to Chakwera’s convoy along the Zomba-Limbe Road.

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