The High Court sitting in Nsanje has acquitted 53-year-old Harlod Kazembe of a murder charge due to lack of evidence.
The accusation revolved around the death of the Harlod’s wife, Alice Kazembe, who allegedly fell outside their residence in September 2021 while returning from a borehole where she had been drawing water.
She passed away instantly, relatives suspected her husband had assaulted her based on a prior incident two years earlier when she had reported being beaten by him.
In response to the allegation, Harlod Kazembe was arrested and brought to trial. He pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. The prosecution presented four witnesses, including an investigator and a medical practitioner, to establish their case.
Kazembe requested legal assistance and was represented in Court by Principal Legal Aid Advocate Tiwonge Penama and Senior Legal Aid Advocate Doreen Kawisa, with support from Legal Aid Officer Effort Kusakala.
During his testimony, the deceased’s uncle conceded that no one had witnessed the accused assaulting the deceased on the day in question. He also acknowledged that his niece had only reported an assault two years prior and had not made any recent complaints.
Two police officers, who were prosecution witnesses, claimed they had received reports from anonymous sources who were unwilling to testify that the accused had assaulted his wife. Under cross-examination, they admitted that this information was hearsay.
The medical report presented by the medical practitioner indicated that the deceased had died from a head injury, possibly resulting from an assault based on the provided history, or due to undiagnosed high blood pressure.
During cross-examination by the defense, the medical practitioner acknowledged that the medical report did not bear the deceased’s name.
After the prosecution concluded its case, both the prosecution and the defense submitted arguments for the court to decide whether the accused should stand trial or be acquitted.
In his verdict, High Court Judge Justice Chirwa stated that although the occurrence of death was established, there was no evidence linking it to the accused. Consequently, he found that there was no case to answer and proceeded to acquit the accused.
Harlod Kazembe, who received legal aid, comes from Njovu village T/A Ngabu in Nsanje District.
Source:Legal Aid Bureau