This is a full detail of how the whole Kasambra saga started as explained by justice and constitutional affairs minister Ephraim Chiume in parliament on 21 February 2012 when responding to a question by Honourable Uladi Mussa, Salima South made available sourced by Malawi voice.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Question from the Honourable Member, for Salima South, is to ask the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, to inform the House and the Nation of Malawi, if we are in a State of Emergency, taking into account of what is happening to Mr. Ralph Kasambara, as he is still in prison despite the fact that he got both the court bail and court release order.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to thank the Honourable Member, for Salima South, for his question on a matter of public importance, which he asked in accordance with our Standing Order No. 53.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I wish to inform the Honourable Member, and the entire house and the Nation at large, that Government was already going to make a statement on this matter, in view of the public debate, which it has generated.
Before I dwell on the events, which have led to this very unfortunate saga, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to categorically state that Malawi is not in a state of emergency. All the laws of the land, including the Constitution, are still fully operational and govern the day to day running of the affairs of the State.
Minister Mr. Speaker, Sir, the whole saga started on Monday, 13th February,2012. Around lunch hour, Mr. Christopher Gondwe and Mr. Wilson Chapata were at Magalasi Peoples Trading Centre (PTC) chatting and were drinking “thobwa”. Meanwhile, Mr. James Chadza had travelled from Lilongwe, to visit his sister who lives at Magalasi in Blantyre. Mr. Chadza had agreed with his sister to meet at Magalasi PTC, because it was his first time to visit his sister in Blantyre, and did not know the directions to her house.
Around 13.50 hours, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Police received information through a telephone call, from an anonymous caller, that three people were kidnapped at Magalasi PTC, by people using a blue Twin Cab Vehicle. The three abducted people, according to eye witnesses, were driven to Ralph and Arnold Associates’ premises, and that they were being assaulted.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, acting on the report, a Criminal Investigations Department (CID) team, rushed to the scene. Upon arrival at the Ralph and Arnold Associates’ premises, they found the three abducted persons who were being assaulted. These people sustained severe cuts on the heads, arms and legs. Their clothes were torn and wet. (Malawi voice )
The police rescued the three victims. They were taken to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for medical attention and were issued with medical reports.
In the process, Mr. Kasambara and his five accomplices were arrested. They were cautioned and charged with the offences of kidnapping and assault occasioning bodily harm to which they all denied, except for Mr. Kasambara who exercised his right to remain silent.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the violence that was inflicted on the victims was gross, gruesome and inhuman. The torture to which the victims were subjected was as follows:
1. The victims were stripped naked,
2. They had their hands tied the “nyakula” style with a telephone cord,
3. Their legs were also tied with a telephone cord,
4. They were severely beaten with a hose pipe and iron bars,
5. They were splashed with water with a hose pipe,
6. They were given electric shock, using shock-sticks,
7. Their private parts were smeared with nali “sabola” or peri peri, and
8. Their private parts were also pierced with safety pins.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, all these acts of torture were being carried out by Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, Sir, these types of treatment are all in contravention of Section 19 of the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, Mr. Kasambara alleges, that the victims were thugs who had been sent by unspecified persons, who wanted to cause harm or to kill him. It is alleged that the victims had gone with a petrol bomb to Mr. Kasambara’s office. Unfortunately this was not reported to the police. Had Mr. Kasambara reported to the police that someone had come with a petrol bomb to his office the police would have arrested the persons and started investigating the matter. (malawi voice giving you true online news from malawi) Based on the police investigations, there is no evidence that the victims were on a plot to cause harm or assassinate Mr. Kasambara, because they did not have any weapon on them.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is also alleged that the three victims were dropped at Magalasi PTC by Mr. Paulos Chisale. However, nothing has been reported to the Police, by Mr. Kasambara’s accomplices, that Mr. Chisale was involved in the matter.
In addition, Mr. Kasambara claims that he acted in self defence. It is clear from the available information, that it was Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices who went out to abduct the victims and subjected them to torture. The three Malawians were freely walking around Magalasi and drinking their “thobwa”. They are people who had the right of movement under Section 39 of the Constitution.
If Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices, were making a private arrest of the victims, under section 33 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code, they had a duty to hand them over to the police under section 34 of the same code.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, they had no authority to subject them to the inhuman treatment that the victims suffered. Violence is not part of our laws, nor is it part of our tradition.
I wish to bring to the attention of the Honourable House, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that Ndirande Police Station, is only about half a kilometre from Mr. Kasambara’s office. Yet, Mr. Kasambara did not bother to surrender the three gentlemen to the police. He decided to take the law into his own hands.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is illegal under Section 19 (3) of the Constitution to subject any citizen of the land to torture of any kind or to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. It is the duty of the State to punish offenders and not that of the private citizens.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the State believes that Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices committed the following offences:
1. Causing grievous harm
2. Unlawful wounding
3. Assault occasioning bodily harm
4. Abduction of a person
The abduction and the interrogations, Mr. Speaker, Sir, are not disputed by Mr. Kasambara’s colleagues in their narratives. Unfortunately, no man is above the law and the Police are mandated, to arrest where one is found committing a crime. The nature of the beast is such that whoever is found committing a crime is the one that you charge with an offence and it was Mr. Kasambara and his colleagues who had abducted the alleged assailants.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the State intends to prosecute Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices, in accordance with the law before a competent court.
Meanwhile, Mr. Speaker, Sir, on Tuesday, 14th February, 2012 late in the afternoon, Mr. Kasambara’s lawyers obtained bail from Senior Resident Magistrate, Innocent Nebi.
I am reliably informed, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that Mr. Kasambara’s lawyers and Mr. Nebi hunted for a court clerk, and the court proceedings were conducted at Shoprite Shopping Complex at Chichiri in Blantyre.
It is important to point out, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that at the time of bail proceedings, the non-judicial staff were still on strike, as they still are. (Malawi voice) Yet, a court clerk was allowed to suspend his participation in the strike and move from a picket line to attend to Mr. Kasambara’s bail application. One wonders where the court clerk got the official paper, date stamp, etc.
As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, Sir, during this judicial strike, many Malawians in prisons across the country are being denied bail. Yet, a special arrangement was made for Mr. Kasambara and his five colleagues to be granted bail. It seems our judicial system was selective in dispensing justice, in this regard.
The bail application was heard without giving notice of hearing to the Police or the Director of Public Prosecutions.
SEARCH OF PREMISES
On 15th February, 2012, with a search warrant, and in the presence of the President of the Malawi Law Society, Mr. Gift Mwakwawa, the Police conducted searches at Ralph & Arnold Associates’ and Mr. Kasambara’s premises. Two pieces of black telephone wires, of about 10 metres each, were recovered from Ralph and Arnold Associates’ premises. At Mr. Kasambara’s residence, in Nyambadwe, a black shockstick with two batteries was found. All the items found are with the police as part of evidence, in this matter.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, even though bail was granted under very dubious circumstances, the State respected the court order and was going to release Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices.
While the Police were still concluding their preliminary investigations, rumour started circulating that Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices had been released on bail. Police got suspicious as to how bail bonds were obtained, taking into account the fact that courts have not been functioning due to the judicial strike.
In the same vein, the gate-book (register) in which the Police
Prosecutor was to sign upon the release of the suspects was, without remorse, signed by Mr. Shefa Mumba, a lawyer who took the bail bonds to Prison for service. Police are looking for Mr. Shefa Mumba to question him on his involvement in signing the gate-book (register) at Chichiri Prison.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, due to flaws in the procedure, Mr. Kasambara was taken back into custody. He was subsequently taken to Zomba Maximum Prison due to security reasons, as there were vigils which were being conducted outside Chichiri Prison.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, much as I am at pains to discuss someone’s medical condition in public, which as you know is not our culture. Suffice to say that Government is aware that Mr. Kasambara has had some health challenges for some time. Mr. Speaker, Sir, while Mr. Kasambara was the Attorney General, he was taken ill. His Excellency the President, Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, authorized that Mr. Kasambara be taken to South Africa for medical attention.
That is why, Mr. Speaker, Sir, when the prison authorities realized that Mr. Kasambara’s health was deteriorating, they rushed him to Mwaiwathu Hospital in Blantyre for medical attention and recuperation.
It is pleasing to note, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that, Mr. Kasambara’s health is improving by the day, according to medical reports which have been made available to Government. This is the more reason why the government is keeping him under observation at Mwaiwathu Hospital.
As I conclude my response, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to inform the Honourable House, that Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices have been properly arrested by the Police and the State is keen on prosecuting them once the Courts start sitting.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is no state of emergency in Malawi and all the laws of the country are applicable. Government is carrying out its actions in this case in accordance with our laws.(Malawi voice Giving you true online news from Malawi)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, the President has not declared a state of emergency as per the prescription of Section 45 of the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, to go in search of persons suspected of intending to kill you, and commissioning a vigilante-style group of individuals to apprehend them, bring them to your office and thereafter interrogating them, assaulting them and torturing them, oversteps the limits of acts that the law allows private persons to do. Mr Kasambara and his colleagues took the law into their own hands. Mr. Speaker, Sir, since no man is above the law, the police had no choice but to arrest Mr. Kasambara and his colleagues.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to advise the Honourable House, that Mr. Kasambara and his accomplices have been charged by the Police, which means that the matter is now supposed to go to court. Therefore, I do not intend to comment further on this matter in line with Standing Order 224 of Sub judice Rule.
Finally, Mr.Speaker, Sir, I wish to advise that anyone who is interested to read the response, which I have just delivered in this Honourable House, can visit the Ministry of Justice Website: www.justice.gov.mw.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, and Honourable Members, I thank you for your attention.