Ralph, Laugh and Rough
What actually happened is a subject of speculation up to now because both the Police and Ralph Kasambara, the man at the center of it all are not coming out clear about it. However what followed it is what is rough in that it reveals the kind of unsafe place Malawians are locked at; and the unfolding of it has been funny to say the least. It makes you laugh as if it is a good thing.
Ralph Kasambara is a prominent lawyer in Malawi. It started off with him dropping off 3 men who were dampen in blood at a police station. The claim was that his security men had beaten them up after they were caught trying to kill him and petro bomb his office. At least that is one version the story.
The second version says that the police went to attend to Ralph’s office after getting a tip that Ralph had taken some men there where they were subjected to a gruesome and inhumane torture treatment.
Ralph said he had collected evidence from them of which included a phone with messages and taped confessions that indicated that they were sent by DPP men from the state house to harm him.
The police questioned the men and they also questioned Ralph. From there, they ended up arresting Ralph Kasambara and his men as their conclusion was that Ralph had committed a crime.
Following on to that, like wild fire word made its rounds around news and social internet media that Ralph had been arrested and the reasons were political. Unsurprisingly the blame and all the cursing went to president Bingu wa Munthalika. Ralph became an instant hero.
Ralph has finally been released on police bail yet to be tried on unlawful wounding charges. During his time in detention he saw himself spending a night in a police cell, being released, went on a hero’s tour in BT, got arrested back, sent to Chichiri prison and then sent to Zomba prison where he was put in a death roll cell for his own safety. Finally he ended up being admitted at Mwaiwathu Hospital, the most expensive hospital in the country after complaining of a heart condition.
As all that was happening with Ralph Kasambara, the busiest person running up and down to get the man back from the police’s grip was Wapona Kita. Currently the front doors of the courts in the country are closed because of a strike that is believed to have been masterminded by Ralph Kasambara is in progress. The junior staff are asking government for more money of which government does not have. However Kita found a secret way within the system to bypass all that to get a bail for Ralph.
How Kita did it is his own intellectual property. Like the Coca-Cola recipe, he is keeping it water tight within his wraps. Even when the ACB is asking him to tell them how he did it, Kita is having none of it, he is not sharing. ‘No no no…’ he told them, ‘I am pleading the 51st.’ ‘They respected that and here I am, they haven’t arrested me,’ he wrote as his facebook status with a simper coming through in his words.
As has always been the case with Kita’s status updates on this case, this one was also followed with a thread of comments showering the amens and admiration sentiments in their hundreds for the well esteemed lawyer. The comments breathed this collective sigh of relief that Kita was back on the loose to get our man of the week out. “Go get ‘em,” yes, all of us his friends told Kita. “Government does not know you and Kasambara are no lawyers to mess with!” some added ardently.
Kita’s first target, as instructed by Ralph was Patricia Kaliati, implacably also known as Akweni. The issue being that she destroyed the image of Ralph. That woman, she never shuts up, does she? Well, according to Kita her mouth will cost her K60 million. How can she say that Ralph and his men, as Nyasa Times reported, homosexually assaulted Ralph’s alleged attackers? Kita like a Roman Catholic priest delivering a sermon was calm and polite when he came back and told us on facebook that Ralph had told him to proceed and sue the big mouthed woman.
Knowing how Kita is good at finding stuff in these law books he will find a way to morph up the good will and support that Ralph has received due to Akweni’s outburst to present it to the court as a butchered image of Ralph. We can only hope that he will not plead the 51st when we ask him later on how he did it.
This other one invites a face palm. It is a contempt of court charge on someone Kita is yet to find out about. The idea to do this came when an injunction he obtained at the High Court in Zomba to have the secretly obtained court bail respected was not entertained at Zomba Maximum prison. He says he was told that the IG asked for the injunction to be served on the IG himself. …So potential candidates to face Kita in court are, a certain person called ‘orders from above,’ the IG, the prison officers, Jose, the police and others that did not respect the injunction whom might have been in the path of Kita between the High Court in Zomba and Zomba Maximum Prison. –In fact as we are writing, it seems like Jose, the Southern Region Commissioner of police has won the jackpot. He has been served to attend proceedings for the contempt case. You don’t know who is next.
Now, not only Kita as a lawyer was involved in this. He told us that when the police went to search Ralph’s house and office, they were 30 of them, of whom probably in a case of not wanting to be outdone by the police, the lawyers matched them up with 20 of themselves. There were police and lawyers everywhere at Ralph’s office and house. Everywhere! For every 3 policemen, there were 2 lawyers present. Not that they had nothing to do because of the strike, but they wanted to make sure that the 30 policemen didn’t replace the leaking batteries in Ralph’s torture machine with new ones. And that the other powder they found was not illegal powder but baking powder. They made sure that every one including the police were good on that understanding. – The batteries are leaking and the powder is for baking.
Gift Mwakwawa went running to BBC and told the people of the world that Kamuzu was a better dictator to him because the laws then permitted him to be a dictator. Bingu however is not a good
dictator because he has no laws to permit him to be one hence having Ralph Kasambara in the coolers is not right at all. Gift is the president of the Law Society of Malawi.
NGO/CSO imposed a ban on MBCTV from covering a press event at which they were talking about what was happening with Ralph. They said they don’t like them because they don’t say what the CSO leaders want them to say. The CONGOMA director added to say that they did not like it about MBCTV reporters because of their punctuality. They would prefer tardy reporters that keep African Time instead of these boys that have this strange time keeping discipline.
There is a lot that has happened and a lot will happen around this issue of which we need to come up with a series of Saturday Night Live parodies to satirize but this time, on a serious note now, here is the rough part of it all for all of us: We have two devils in Malawi. One devil we know the other devil is two subtle, we can’t put a finger to it.
The government is the Devil we know. The good thing about this devil is that it is in our face. We know its moves because apart from seeing it ourselves we have the opposition to tell us what the government is not doing right. The information that we get from there helps us to make decisions on whether we still trust the people we put in government to continue serving us or not. We have the power.
The Devil that we don’t know and yet seem to be unleashing its own form of unfairness on us is the judiciary. What is happening as revealed by this whole saga is more dangerous for us than the political problems that we are having. In fact the danger is even made worse because of the political problems we are having.
Normally in a society people that work in the judiciary are regarded as very intelligent people. And also because in their work they stand between you and prison, it is an overwhelming thing to question them even if you know that what they are doing or saying is wrong. It is the same as rebuking a doctor that is treating you, you think twice before doing it because you know how much stake they have on your very life.
At the moment because the members of the judicially seems to be standing with the people as they take government to task on different issues and have hijacked the people’s voices for them to do that, it becomes difficult to see the wrongs in them. And if you happen to see the wrong, to point them out becomes a difficult thing because you don’t want to disappoint someone who seem to be doing you a favor.
They are very educated and they speak and write with all this legal jargon. Often times they are forceful, authoritative and intimidating when they speak. It is difficult to ascend to their level to have a candid conversation.
However, we still have a problem with them, which to me is more dangerous than the political problems that are in our face in today. Some of us have friends or home buddies among them and therefore this
might not have that much of an impact in our perception. If you can remove yourself from the picture first and think about the average Malawian person, that kind of empathy can correct the vision. The average Malawians come in large numbers and this Kasambara issue has revealed that the courts cannot deliver justice for them.
Kasambara might be who he is among us but let us face it; it is not fair that he could get a relief from the courts when others cannot because of the strike. Kasambara calls himself a human rights defender and he knows that very well. It– is– not– fair!
The question with this is not how people are finding themselves behind bars when the strike is in progress; We know the police are not on strike, they are still enforcing the law and that is why we have people being locked up there in the first place. The question is how one of the people that found himself behind bars managed to find his way out when others cannot find their way out.
Edge Kanyongolo, a constitutional law lecturer at Chanco and other lawyers have tried to justify the move but their explanation is more political than honest. They are talking to government, trying to show how foolish the people in government are and not saying anything about it to us, the people that need the courts. They have chosen to speak on top of us instead of speaking to us or with us.
They are not bothered that there are some of us who really need a proper explanation from them about how it was possible for Ralph Kasambara to get bail when others are not able to access the facility because of the strike. This is the message coming from them as reported in the Daily Times:
Legal experts have said that questioning the procedure that prominent lawyer Ralph Kasambara used to obtain his controversial bail is fruitless and illegal.
By disobeying the court order because of questions on what procedures were used instead of going to the same court with its concerns, government has portrayed itself as disrespectful of the law.
What they are telling us there is that we are wasting our time and breaking the law by asking them how Ralph Kasambara was bailed out when other Malawians are not able to be bailed out because of the strike. We can be prosecuted for asking that.
The other thing that they are telling us is that to them the end justifies the means. In other words the process in which the documents were processed does not make the document illegal even if they were fraudulently processed. The officers to whom they were presented had no right to verify their authenticity through other means other than that which was on the documents. The fact that they have knowledge of the strike preventing people from accessing the courts shouldn’t matter in their decision making as to whether to accept the papers as genuine or not.
It is common knowledge that the courts are on strike and the message is that people are suffering in prison because the courts cannot seat because of the strike. Taking it that the courts are there to serve the people, when the strike started people were not informed that there are alternative channels they could go through to obtain relief from the courts as the strike is in progress.
Also as it stands, with the amount of ‘opposition political involvement’ by our legal practitioners, especially the members of the Law Society of Malawi and also with the habit of withholding vital information about process/procedure from the masses, it is difficult to guarantee that members of the DPP, a party they vehemently oppose can be assured of justice from the courts in case of disputes and in their political involvement in places where the courts have to constitutionally play a part.
Ralph Kasambara once wrote a press statement in which he was accusing the president for appointing judges that were not from the northern region which indicated that legal practitioners like him are able to provide checks and balances to what the government does. However with the judiciary there is no one providing that. With its members standing in the political crowd, they put the other two arms of government at an awkward position to provide the same for them as mandated by the constitution.
It is a worrying situation where northerners in the judiciary seem to have ganged up and are executing within the system as a front. It is understandable that we have freedom of association, the reason of which it would have been okay if there was transparency in how business is conducted by the courts especially during times of difficulties like we are in now. When legal practitioners withhold information that the people are entitled to, the whole thing becomes suspicious. The Justice that you get because of who you know and not because of what you know is not justice at all. It means the other one who does not know anyone is denied justice.
This is even made worse with the cold shoulder and rebuke from the judiciary that the ACB is receiving after opening an investigation to establish as to whether corruption took place or not in the way Ralph’s bail was obtained. It suggests that the members of the judiciary that are speaking out believe that they are insulated from the bodies’ scrutiny in the way they have been conducting their duties. That can’t be healthy.
The long and short of this is that until someone comes out in the open and explain to the masses on what is going on, Ralph Kasambara’s case has demonstrated that there is corruption, clandestine deals, politics through the system, tribalism and disintegration within our judiciary system. There is need for the national’s radical consideration of the system. As it stands, justice is not the word we can associate with our judicial system.