DPP supporters confront police demanding release of Chasowa murder suspect Noel Masangwi
Opposition DPP supporters on Monday nearly stormed Malawi’s High Court premises in Blantyre, demanding unconditional release of suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa.
The supporters, clad in party colours, got angry after being informed that the bail application ruling for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor for the South Noel Masangwi and three others had been postponed to Friday.
The supporters charged towards police officers who prevented the DPP mob from going anywhere close to the courthouse, let alone enter the premises’ gates.
The loud and hostile supporters accused the police of victimising DPP officials. The police did not retaliate, but stood firm and succeeded in preventing the supporters from accessing the court premises.
Lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale, representing Masangwi, DPP director of youth for the South Lewis Ngalande, Frank Julius and Sam Chulu, asked High Court Judge Sylvester Kalembera to release his clients on bail.
Kaphale argued that his clients, arrested on October 24, never tried to influence any witness during the Justice Andrew Nyirenda Commission of Inquiry into Chasowa’s death; hence, could not interfere with police investigations if granted bail.
Kaphale said the applicants have families, property and domiciled in Malawi, arguing that despite being questioned at the commission of inquiry and testifying, no one left Malawi, not even after the commission of inquiry released its report.
Kaphale also argued bail is a constitutional right and that the High Court has power to release on bail an accused person on any crime including murder. Kaphale said it is up to the State to prove why it could not be in the interest of justice to release his clients on bail.
Principal State Advocate Steven Kayuni objected to the application, arguing police are still investigating the matter and that the accused persons are likely to interfere with witnesses, including those not mentioned in the Chasowa commission of inquiry report.
Justice Kalembera adjourned the case to Friday for his ruling.
Lawyer Ambokile Salimu, representing Geoffrey Botomani and Peter Petros Tembo—arrested on July 17 and denied bail earlier by Justice McLean Kamwambe in connection with the same Chasowa murder—said he had been retained to represent the two to replace earlier lawyers following availability of fresh facts.
Salimu argued the fresh facts were that Botomani was in South Africa when Chasowa was murdered and he (the lawyer) presented a photocopy of his client’s passport to show that he exited Malawi on September 17 last year and returned on October 5, yet Chasowa was murdered on September 24.
But Senior State Advocate Tilly Likomwa dismissed the argument, arguing it was there when the first application was made and she urged the court to dismiss the application in its entirety.
Kalembera will make his ruling on this one on Monday next week.
Lawyer Chancy Gondwe, representing a police officer Stanford Horea, businessperson and boxing promoter Mike Chitenje, Stone Mwamadi and Isaac Osman, also filed an application for bail and Kalembera is expected to make his ruling on Sunday.