Showdown in circumcision case

Showdown in circumcision case

Private practice lawyer Dalitso Chimbe has obtained an injunction against Malawi Police Service (MPS) and principal resident magistrate in Blantyre, restraining them from prosecuting him in a criminal matter.

Chimbe, trading under Dawn Patrick’s Attorneys in Blantyre, obtained the order against Fiscal Police officer-in-charge, regional prosecutions officer (South), Inspector General of Police and the magistrate as first, second, third and fourth defendants respectively.

Some minors wait to be circumcised

The lawyer was arrested last December alongside five other individuals in connection with a lawsuit in which 336 minors from Phalombe and Mulanje sued Popular Services International (PSI) Malawi, seeking compensation for being circumcised without their guardians’ consent.

 Other suspects are Blantyre-based private clinician Anthony Chipolopolo, Migowi Health Centre surveillance assistant Peter Mathewe, Vincent Chakhumata Banda, a medical practitioner based at Mulanje District Health Office and agents Rose Howse and Justin Iron.

They were charged with six offences osconspiracy to defraud contrary to Section 323 of the Penal Code, intent to defraud contrary to Section 354 of the Penal Code and abuse of office contrary to Section 95 of the Penal Code.

Other charges were false pretence, contrary to Section 319A of the Penal Code, making a false document contrary to Section 353 of the Penal Code and procuring, including execution of documents by false pretence contrary to Section 362 of the Penal Code.

 According to National Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya, the lawyer was arrested for allegedly using names of unsuspecting villagers from the two districts to file lawsuits against PSI Malawi, now called Family Health Services (FHS).

The order which Chimbe has obtained from Justice Allan Muhome, besides the four defendants, also restrains the defendants’ employees, agents or subordinates from prosecuting him in relation to civil causes number 1599, 1813 and 1828 of 2023 or any other matter related to the matters.

The three cases, filed between August 2023 and October 2023, are before the Midima Resident Magistrate’s Court in Limbe and the proceedings remain on-going and are pending trial.

The defendants are further restrained from demanding, insisting or expecting Chimbe not to communicate or contact some or all his clients who he continues to represent within the same civil proceedings or “any other matters related thereto.”

In his sworn statement, Chimbe believes the decisions taken by the defendants violated his constitutional rights and were unlawful, unjustifiable and in bad faith and “I can only be vindicated by a hearing at judicial review.”

 Reads the statement: “Wherefore, I pray that the court ought to grant permission to commence judicial review and should further grant an order of interlocutory injunction pending the conclusion of the judicial review.”

 High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Kondwani Banda asked for more time before commenting on the matter.

However, in an interview Chimbe stated the interlocutory order was granted following his commencement of judicial review proceedings where he is seeking court’s determination on whether it was reasonable for the police to arrest him following an alleged complaint from PSI Malawi and also charge him with the offence of conspiracy to defraud the organisation by claiming compensation through court proceedings.

 “On the date of my arrest, 15th December 2023 at 5 pm on a Friday, five police officers from Fiscal Police came to my office and demanded that I go to their offices and insisted that I carry my case file on the PSI/FHS case.

 “I was taken in for questioning and informed that PSI/FHS made a complaint against me and I was further told that the claims I have commenced are false allegations. My response was if they are false then the best place to prove the same would be in the same manner of presenting evidence before the court and disputing the claims, after all at that material time, the case was at its initial stages.

 “I was informed to not contact witnesses in the case, the witnesses at the time being my clients. My clients were further arrested and brought to Fiscal Police for questioning, where they identified me as their lawyer.

 “The judicial review, therefore, seeks to determine whether following the above the police acted reasonably and in good faith in arresting me considering my professional conduct as a lawyer,” explained Chimbe in a written response.

 In October 2023, following the three court cases,FHS engaged Mbeya Private Investigators (MPI) to probe the issues and appreciate the court cases.

FHS executive director Jephta Mtema told Weekend Nation in November last year that they engaged the private investigator after being overwhelmed by the claims which “sounded abnormal”.

FHS, a local organisation that implements programmes aimed at improving lives of Malawians, conducted the circumcisions through a project known as Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC) which it was running.

The post Showdown in circumcision case first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Showdown in circumcision case appeared first on Nation Online.