Enlightened Christian Gathering leader Shepherd Bushiri and wife Mary Monday made an application to the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court, asking the State to bring to court all the South African witnesses who are accusing the two of fraud and money laundering.
Making the application in court Monday, lawyer for the Bushiris, Wapona Kita, argued that, according to procedures of an extradition hearing, witnesses are supposed to be paraded for authentication of evidence contained in the extradition request.
Kita said the witnesses are required to be in court as the State cannot rely solely on what is stated in the extradition request without checking the authenticity of the information, if at all the evidence is sufficient or verified.
Kita said the Extradition Act itself is, in Section 9, clear on that and how evidence must be received.
According to Kita, the act says the court has same jurisdictions as a preliminary enquiry and the hearing cannot deviate from that.
But Director of Public Prosecutions Steven Kayuni objected to the request to bring the couples’ South Africa-based accusers for authentication of evidence in the extradition request.
Kayuni said the decision to bring witnesses from South Africa to Malawi could subject the Bushiris and the witnesses to two trials; one in Malawi and the other in South Africa.
He observed that what would happen in Malawi is not a trial at the High Court but a preliminary inquiry, adding that, as such, it would not be necessary to bring in the witnesses.
Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has adjourned the case to next Monday, when he would rule on the application.
Earlier, Chirwa gave his ruling on the application raised by Bushiris’ lawyers last week on whether the matter should be heard as a criminal or civil proceeding.
Chirwa said, looking at the matter before the court, it was only proper that the matter be handled as a criminal matter.
Chirwa also ordered the State to furnish the Bushiri camp with all the necessary documents from South Africa in the matter.