Kasambara sentence hearing adjourned: Manondo, Kumwembe raise concerns
Two convicted persons on the attempted murder of former budget director in the ministry of finance, MacDonald Kumwembe and Pika Manondo have expressed concernc that they were not informed of their appearance in court on Monday for for hearing of submissions of mitigation factors before it can pass jail sentences.
The two, who were convicted by the Blantyre based High Court judge Micheal Mtambo last month on the two charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder together with former minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs Raphael Kasambara SC who was convicted for Conspiracy charge, were set to make their oral presentation of sentence submission.
Mtambo also found Manondo, a businessperson and Kumwembe, a former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier, guilty of attempted murder in relation to Mphwiyo’s shooting on September 13 2013 outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe.
Despite the guilty verdicts and committing the trio to prison, the judge reserved their custodial sentences.
Appearing in court from Maula Prison, Kumwembe and Manondo said they were not ready with their submissions as they were not notified by the state and the court that they will appear in court Monday.
They asked the court to adjourn the matter to a later date so that they can file their submission to the court wiithin the two working days.
But state top prosecutor, Mary Kachale rejected the claims by the two convicts, saying as the state they were notified that the two were well informed on time of the court hearing.
However, Manondo rose to challengr the state or court to produce a name of a court clerk or any official from state who went to notify them and come to testify in an open court, maintaining his stand that they were not informed .
Lawyer represeting the third convict, Kasambara, Lusungu Gondwe of Ritz Attorney’s joined the two asking for an adjournment as he said he was not ready to stand in the court as his car was involved in an accident while traveling from Blantyre to Lilongwe at Nathenje where life has been lost and that his working partner in tthe case Bright Theu has sustained some injuries and was beig treated at Kamuzu Central Hospital.
Gondwe reminded the court of the criminal procedure which he quote as saying they promote justice and fair trial to the accused persons as ssuch it was important for the court to accord the three an adjournment to enable them prepare as well as that his partner recovers and be available in the next court proceedings.
In his rulling, Justice Dr Michael Mtambo has given the two, Kumwembe and Manondo to file their submissions documents to the court and the state by Thursday and the case has been adjourned to next week Tuesday 30 August 2016.
Under the Penal Code, the offence of attempted murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment whereas conspiracy to commit murder attracts a maximum jail term of 14 years.
Immediately after his conviction, Kasambara hinted at the possibility of appealing against the verdict, and so far a notice of appeal on the same had been lodged withe the Supreme Court of Malawi, according to the Judiciary.
Mphwiyo’s shooting is widely believed to have exposed Cashgate, the systematic plundering of public resources at Capital Hill.
Former president Joyce Banda ordered a forensic audit undertaken by British firm Baker Tilly covering the period between April and September 2013 which established that about K24 billion ($33 million) was siphoned from public coffers.
Besides serving as minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kasambara, now a private practice lawyer and senior counsel (SC), also served as Attorney General in the Banda administration. He also served in the first term of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika as AG.