The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Malawi has appealed to the High Court to review the decision which the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court made, to the effect that South African witnesses in the extradition case of fugitive pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary should be physically present in court sessions in that country.
DPP Steve Kayuni confirmed the development.
On March 29 2021, Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa said the State could not rely on statements taken by people in other places in the Bushiri case; as such, there was a need to allow the accused people to interview the witnesses as the law states.
The State, however, argued that, just like in sexual violence cases, sometimes it is possible to protect testimonies of accusers.
The State indicated to the court that evidence could be done in camera and not in open court.
In the latest development, the High Court, in an order dated June 25 2021, has called for records of proceedings in the subordinate court so that they can be reviewed “to ascertain the correctness, legality, and propriety” of findings, citing “sections 26(1) and 26(2) of the Courts Act”.
The High Court further said the date of the review shall be fixed within July 2021.
The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court threw out the application by the State to have the witnesses testify through video conferencing on the basis that there was no legal backing and the court had limited powers on the matter.
The Bushiris are facing extradition charges following their escape from South Africa, where they were answering several charges including money laundering, fraud, theft and forgery.
The South African government requested the extradition of the two but the issue is being contested in the courts.