State wants vagrancy case thrown out of court


The State through the Attorney General’s Office Thursday asked the Constitutional Court to dismiss the vagrancy laws case in which local vendor, Mayeso Gwanda, is challenging the constitutionality of Rogue and Vagabond Law in the country.

The plea to throw out the case was made by Senior State Advocate, Apoche Itimu, who is representing the Attorney General’s office in the case.

Itimu objected to the commencement of the substantive hearing of the matter, arguing the appellant had jumped the gun to apply for judicial review when the case was referred from the magistrate court to the constitutional court direct without being heard at the High Court.


“Our objections are based on Section 9 (2) of the Courts Act which says that for a matter to be determined by a constitutional court, it has to be a matter that arises from the High Court. In this case, the proceedings are coming from the magistrates court,” said Itimu.

She further observed that the appellant should have originated sermons to the Attorney General for the matter to be heard at the High Court and then certification be made there to a panel of three judges.

However, lawyer representing the complainant, Mandala Mambulasa, punched holes in the state’s objection by saying he had dealt with the matter during the certification process.


“There is no need to bring back the issue this time when the substantive hearing was supposed to commence. The Chief Justice had certified that the matter be heard by a constitutional court and we dealt with what the Attorney General has raised during that time,” said Mambulasa.

Another preliminary issue that came before the three judges was the application by the Malawi Law Society to join the case as friends of the court, which was granted.

This makes MLS the fourth party to join the case as friends of court after the Legal Aid Bureau, Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa), and Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (Pasi) were admitted during other preliminary hearings.

Deputy Director at the Legal Aid Bureau, Trouble Kalua, said the position that the bureau has taken on the law is that Section 184(1)(c) of the Penal Code is unconstitutional, outdated and vague which results in its arbitrary enforcement by the police.

Section 184(1) (c) of the Penal Code provides that: “Every person found in or upon or near any premises of in any road or highway or any place adjacent thereto or in any public place at such time and under such circumstances as to lead to the conclusion that such person is there for an illegal or disorderly purpose, is deemed a rogue and vagabond

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