Secretary to Treasury, Ronald Mangani, on Wednesday escaped being committed to prison for contempt of court when his office issued a K31 million cheque as compensation to families of people who were gunned down by government agents during the July 20, 2011 peaceful demonstrations.
The 10 families through lawyer, Leonard Mbulo, asked the court to jail Mangani for failure to release the funds despite Attorney General’s approval.
However, Ministry of Justice Spokesperson, Apoche Itimu, representing Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, took the court by surprise when she flashed out the cheque to Mbulo before the court could convene asking for the immediate withdrawal of the case.
Drama characterised the manner in which Mbulo changed face in court and asked Judge Dingiswayo Madise to close the case.
This even surprised the families who were still in the dark on what transpired outside court.
Speaking in an interview with The Daily Times Mbulo said government should always comply with court orders.
“I was surprised when I met Itimu as I entered the courtroom. She showed me the cheque and said that the judge had already seen it.
“She asked me to withdraw the case which I felt we could because our clients would get the compensation they wanted,” Mbulo said.
In an interview, Itimu expressed satisfaction with how the matter has been handled.
She, however, argued that the delay was because government was concentrating on other pressing matters.
“This money is from public coffers and cannot be withdrawn anyhow. That is why we delayed, however, people should understand that government was busy solving other crucial problems like buying maize, drugs in hospitals and others,” Itimu said.
But the concerned families were not happy with the delayed compensation, arguing that the money has lost its original value due to inflation.
One of the family members, Juma Chitenje, accused government of deliberately playing tricks over the matter in order to sabotage Malawians who feel those who were killed were heroes.
Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Executive Director, Moses Mkandawire, agreed with Chitenje, adding the compensation is not adequate considering the exchange rate.
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