Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wait and Wait: Justice the Malawi Way

There is something disturbing about the court system in Malawi. This is delays to come to the logical end of court cases.

And the cost, emotional and otherwise, is high on those subjected to this unfair treatment.

Come to think of it, Mark Peterson Kapwepwe, from Namanolo in Liwonde, Machinga District, has been in and out of the courtroom in Ntcheu for the past 27 years. His crime?

Causing malicious damage to property belonging to a neighbour.

And here is what happened.

On February 3, 1989, Kapwepwe, now 54, discovered that his first-born daughter was pregnant.The daughter [name withheld] was 18 years old when this incident happened.

Kapwepwe, who learned about the pregnancy-incident from his wife, referred the issue to village elders. The elders advised him to ask the daughter about the identity of the man who did the 'damage'.

Well, it turned out that it was Kapwepwe's neighbour.

However, the neighbour was not home. In fact, he had left Malawi to work in the mines in South Africa four weeks before Kapwepwe discovered that his daughter was pregnant. The man, said to be in his 30s at the time, had no wife and children. So, he travelled to the village, negotiated with his relatives on the need to allow him take one of the relatives in the village to watch over the house while he was away.

That is how a relative came to live in the house while the man was in South Africa.

Kapwepwe was infuriated when he learned that the man's return date was unknown.

Thus, infuriated, he broke into the house of the man responsible for Kapwepwe's pregnancy and smashed everything he could lay his hands on. The relative was there, overpowered and helpless.

It is the relative who reported to police and was nabbed. He started going to court in his district, before his wife died a year later. He found another wife from Ntcheu, and relocated to Ntcheu.

It's now clear what happened, but the case was transferred to Ntcheu. Two months later, he was back in court. Then, according to him, the files went missing.

He was ordered to be reporting to Ntcheu Police every fortnight until last year when he was told by one of the officers at Ntcheu Police that he should consider the case dropped. This, according to Kapwepwe, is because the man related to the man who impregnated Kapwepwe's daughter died in January last year.

Kapwepwe is having none of it.

"I want justice to be done. As far as I am concerned, I am still on trial. I want documented evidence showing that the case has been discontinued and I will sue the state," he said yesterday.

Zachimalawi would like to say: work on the system. Make it quick, I mean, justice. And less painful, if need be.

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