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Shepherd Bushiri appeals South Africa witnesses ruling

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Wapona Kika

Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri has appealed Lilongwe Magistrate Court’s ruling for South African witnesses to testify in a case involving him while in their country.

In the case, the South African government wants Bushiri and wife Mary to be extradited there, where they are facing fraud and money laundering charges.

They became fugitives when they jumped bail in South Africa in 2020 and escaped to Malawi.

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The Bushiris, led by their lawyer Wapona Kita, submitted appeal documents before Judge Bruno Kalemba in Lilongwe Tuesday.

However, the State, through Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni, argued that the application be dismissed.

In the submission, Kita wants the court to direct the magistrate court to proceed with the physical attendance of witnesses from South Africa.

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As part of her ruling on August 22 this year, Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Madalitso Chimwaza applied to the High Court to order that witnesses should testify outside Malawi, but the defence argues that she erred.

“The learned magistrate erred in fact and law when she held, in paragraph 22 of her ruling, [that] the coming to Malawi of sexual witnesses would expose them to trauma and embarrassment when there was no evidence of any sexual witness who had complained of being subjected and amenable,” arguments submitted to the court read.

Since some charges touch on sexual harassment, Kita argues that Malawi law have a provision on protecting sexual witnesses from being exposed to trauma and embarrassment.

He also argued that the subordinate court erred in saying that the applicant would be entitled to cross examine the witnesses and their evidence using a counsel in south Africa when the law has not made any provision to facilitate that.

Nevertheless, he said a Malawi lawyer cannot appear and cross examine a witness in South Africa, where he has no jurisdiction and no work permit.

“We appealed against that decision; so, it was our appeal. That is why we are arguing the matter before the court and the DPP had to respond to it,” Kita said.

Kayuni said the State wants the application dismissed but that it is up to the court to decide.

“We have put before the court that the application should be dismissed, but it is the court’s description to attend to the issues and that the honourable court [CRM] properly made the decisions,” Kayuni told reporters outside the court.

He argued that it is possible for lawyers in Malawi to instruct fellow lawyers in South Africa on how proceed with the case.

Kalemba has reserved his ruling to an unspecified date.

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