Lockdown hangs in balance
HRDC questions Attorney General’s conduct
The High Court in Lilongwe on Friday reserved its ruling on whether to lift or uphold the injunction which it granted the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) against a planned 21 day lockdown by the government.
The development effectively means that the 7 day injunction, which was set to lapse yesterday, still stands.
Lawyers for the petitioners, led by Wesley Mwafulirwa, had some choice words for the country’s Attorney General (AG) who they faulted for his no show at the High Court, praying that the court should address his conduct.
In their submission to the court, they argued that the AG needed to be exemplary in respecting court procedures considering that he is the head of the bar in the country
“Applicants are not amused by the way the Attorney General’s office has handled the whole matter, we are a bit concerned by the approach of the AG, as head of the bar he should have addressed the court if indeed he could not defend, he ought to have respect of the court, for the AG to address this court through newspapers it was unfortunate, we believe this court should address that, the AG is not a private firm, but represents over 18 million Malawians :we pray that cost shall be paid by the State, if not, the Secretary to the Treasury must be held in contempt,” lead lawyer Mwafulirwa said.
The petitioners also want Malawi Defense Force Commander, General Peter Namathanga and acting Inspector General of Police Duncan Mwapasa, Minister of Health Jappie Mhango and President Peter Mutharika in court, on the premise that they are the ones who could have enforced the lockdown.
Meanwhile, Prophet David Mbewe of Living word Evangelistic Church (Liwec) is appearing among the petitioners as he is challenging government for ordering the suspension of all church gatherings and the interim order to restrict number of people gathering in church.
Two days after filing the intention to challenge the injunction, AG Kalekeni Kaphale decided to withdraw from the case.
Presiding judge Kenyatta Nyirenda has since reserved his ruling until any day up to Wednesday next week.
However, the judge ruled that the injunction that he granted last week to halt the National rock down, be sustained.
On Friday last week, Nyirenda granted an injunction to HRDC against the planned 21 day lockdown, which government had set as one of the measures to control the spread of Covid -19.
Minister of Health, Jappie Mhango, on Tuesday 14 April declared a planned 21-day lockdown from April 18 to midnight of May 9 befor e the intervention by HRDC through the court.
The court injunction was preceded by commotion in major towns and cities after vendors took to the streets to express dissatisfaction over the planned lockdown.
In Limbe, some vendors burned tyres and blocked roads in protest, arguing that the lockdown will impinge their livelihoods as most of them literally survive from hand to mouth.