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Msundwe rape case costs review October 6

Pilirani Masanjala

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe has set October 6 to hear oral submissions of the State’s application to review Women Lawyers Association (WLA)’s bill of K255,684,112 as costs for handling the Msundwe women rape case.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala said there would be oral hearing of the submissions the State filed and the responses from WLA.

“I believe the WLA responded to our application and this will only be oral hearing of the same,” he said.

WLA represented the women who claim were raped by Malawi Police Service agents who went to restore peace in Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika during demonstrations.

WLA, who offered the services pro-bono (free-of-charge), was later awarded K255 million after the High Court ordered the State to pay costs on top of awarding the women K130 million.

And some observers accused the women of ‘immorally’ benefitting from a case they had indicated they would handle pro bono.

One of the women lawyers Bernadette Malunga said she was not aware of the date for hearing.

“Nobody has told me of the date for hearing; so, I will lie. I will not comment because I am not aware that the date has been set,” she said.

Malawi Law Society described the fees as “unusual” and unjustified while Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) called on WLA to address concerns over the K255 million bill.

An MHRC report into the matter showed that the women were indeed raped but a leaked report by the police on the same allegations indicated that the allegations were fake.

A third investigation into the matter by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is expected to start on October 1.

On August 13 last year, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ordered the police to compensate the sexual assault victims and arrest the law enforcers who were implicated in the attack.

The police officers had allegedly invaded the three locations following the death of their colleague Usumani Imedi, who had earlier been stoned to death by some people at Msundwe, who protested against the then-president Peter Mutharika’s planned political party in Lilongwe.

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