Midnight magistrate Chitsakamile fired

Zomba midnight magistrate Ben Chitsakamile has been fired over the court order which led to the release of bribery suspect Thom Mpinganjira from police custody last year.

Gladys Gondwe, Registrar of the High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, has confirmed to the local media about the firing of Chitsakamile.

This follows an inquiry into the conduct of Chitsakamile by the Judicial Service Commission.

Businessperson Mpinganjira was arrested on January 22 last year on allegations that he offered K100 million bribe to judges who were presiding over the presidential elections case.

The arrest came after the Anti-Corruption Bureau had obtained an arrest warrant. However, at midnight on January 22, Chitsakamile who was serving as Principal Resident Magistrate in Zomba quashed the ACB’s warrant, leading to the release of Mpinganjira from a police station in Blantyre.

Justice Nyakaunda Kamanga later ruled that Chitsakamile did not have powers to cancel another Magistrate’s warrant of arrest.

Kamanga condemned Chitsakamile for not scrutinizing the documents before him and for failing to keep records of what transpired during the process.

She also noted that Mpinganjira’s lawyer did not appear before the Magistrate and the magistrate acted on his own motion.

Kamanga faulted Chitsakamile for working on a file that was not assigned to him and wondered how the case file ended up in the magistrate’s hands.

She added that the process of cancelling the warrant of arrest was done in a Kangaroo court by a magistrate who was surprisingly awake at around midnight.

After ordering that the warrant be restored, Kamanga ruled that Chitsakamile should be disciplined by the Judicial Service Committee.

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