Three people, who were arrested by the Malawi Police Service (MPS) in Malomo, Ntchisi, on suspicion that they were exporting Indian hemp commonly known as Chamba, have sued the Inspector General of Police Merlyn Yolamu challenging their arrest.
High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda granted the three, through a company called Nexgen Medical Limited, an injunction setting aside their arrest and consequent prosecution, thereby staying proceedings that had commenced at the Kasungu Magistrates’ Court.
Following the order, which was granted on November 2, 2022, the suspects were released from Kasungu Prison where they were remanded ahead of the hearing of their application for a judicial review of the matter scheduled for today.
In the order, Justice Nyirenda states that he heard from the applicants’ lawyer that the suspects Evance Gomani, Noel Ngwira and Gideon Dickson possessed licenses to transport and distribute cannabis.
He thus ordered that the police or its agents would be in contempt of court and risk being committed to prison or have their assets seized should they act contrary to the order.
“It is hereby directed that the decision of the defendants to prosecute the claimant’s agents under criminal case number 748 of 2022 registered at Kasungu Magistrates’ Court be stayed pending the hearing of the application for permission to apply for judicial review to be heard on November 10, 2022,” the order reads in part.
But police spokesperson for the Central East Region Esther Mkwanda said in an interview on Tuesday that the three suspects violated the Dangerous Drugs Act and the laws regulating the possession of cannabis in Malawi.
She said while they might have possessed licenses for medicinal hemp, the trio was found in possession of cannabis sativa which is prohibited under the laws of Malawi.
Mkwanda said on the day, police in Kasungu received a tip-off that a van carrying Indian hemp had broken down in Malomo.
“Following the tip-off, the vehicle was intercepted; the driver and two others were arrested. They were brought before court to answer charges of being found in possession of Indian hemp without authority contrary to section 19(1) of Dangerous Drugs Act, [cap 35:02] and possessing cannabis in contravention of licence or permit in manner prescribed by Cannabis Regulatory Authority,” Mkwanda said.
The three were reportedly found with 380 bags of Indian hemp each weighing 50 kilogrammes.
Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said his office is defending the matter which comes for hearing today in Lilongwe.