Interpol and British Embassy engaged in Batatawala and son-in-law feud

Shabir Jussab Malawi

A tense family feud has erupted between the controversial businessman, Abdul Karim Batatawala, and his son-in-law, Shabir Jussab, leading to the involvement of international bodies including the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), the British High Commission in Malawi, and the British Citizenship Office in the UK.

A warrant for the arrest of Shabir Jussab, a businessman residing in Mandala, Blantyre, has been issued by a Magistrate’s court in Blantyre.

Jussab, who is currently in Saudi Arabia for personal business, faces allegations of cyber harassment against his father-in-law, Abdul Karim Batatawala, a prominent businessman with a controversial reputation.

Beatrice Mikuwa, the spokesperson for the South West Region Police, stated that Malawi Police have initiated an Interpol alert to apprehend Jussab and bring him back to Malawi. The allegations against Jussab involve violations of section 86(b) of the Electronic Transaction and Cyber Security Act. The police assert that between July and August 2023, Jussab employed his computer system to disseminate threatening messages, directed at causing harm to Batatawala and his family.

Jussab, who is estranged from Batatawala’s daughter, is currently situated in Saudi Arabia alongside his son. Additional charges claim that Jussab, 32, also used WhatsApp messages during the same period to intentionally disrupt or attempt to disrupt the peace, privacy, or tranquility of Batatawala and his family members.

The warrant reads, “You are hereby directed to arrest the said Shabir Jussab and to produce him before this court in execution of this your warrant and herein fail not.”

According to police sources, Jussab allegedly sent offensive and threatening messages to Batatawala, including baseless and sensitive accusations against him and his family. Batatawala asserted that Jussab committed a cybercrime against him and his family, citing an investigation by the cybercrime unit at Area 30 that traced the messages to Jussab.

In response, Jussab, speaking from Saudi Arabia, claimed that Batatawala’s animosity stems from his refusal to involve his business in supplying goods to the government. Jussab claimed that although he is a British citizen, he declined Batatawala’s repeated requests to use his business for government supply contracts.

“This is a familial matter. Over the past three years, he has persistently pressured me, even involving his wife and my wife. However, I consistently declined his requests until a few weeks ago. When I refused again, he resorted to threats. I maintain an ethical business that does not involve government dealings,” Jussab clarified.

Jussab further elaborated that despite his British citizenship, his life and livelihood are in Malawi. Yet, due to the ongoing threats, he currently deems it unsafe to return.

Regarding the alleged threatening messages, Jussab stated that he merely forwarded messages circulating against Batatawala, disavowing any active involvement in sending threats. He also dismissed the notion that he had the resources to challenge Batatawala’s wealth-driven legal pursuits.

Notably, Abdul Karim Batatawala has been embroiled in various legal issues, including corruption and money laundering charges. An investigative report by the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) detailed how Batatawala allegedly engaged in questionable practices involving Malawi’s Defense Force, Police, and Immigration Department.

The report outlined instances where Batatawala’s companies received contracts and payments for goods that were substandard or not delivered as specified. The investigation also highlighted his manipulation of political connections to secure payments for rejected procurements.

Additionally, Batatawala allegedly exploited his influence to overcharge for goods procured by public departments.

The ongoing dispute between Batatawala and Jussab underscores deeper issues within the family while involving international entities, legalities, and business practices.