Hearing of testimony of the first South African witness in the extradition case involving Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary has failed to start today following objections by the defense.
Lead lawyer for state Dzikondianthu Malunda told the court that after analysing the case, they have decided to parade only one witness instead 6 as earlier stated saying one witness would be enough in an extradition case.
But defense lawyer Wapona Kita objected, describing the position of the state as an ambush considering that in their disclosures, they indicated that they would parade 6 witnesses.
Kita also argued that the testimony by the South African witness Sibongile Mnzinyathi who works as Director of Public Prosecutions of Gauteng, South Africa has not been authenticated in accordance with an extradition Act, therefore it is inadmissible.
He thus asked the court to dismiss the extradiction request by the Republic of South African.
In his response, the state said the objection by the defense has been brought in court in “abrupt” and, therefore, should not be entertained in the interest of a fair play.
According to Malunda, there should have been a notice of an application in the first place in order to allow the state to prepare a response.
Presiding Magistrate, Chief Resident Magistrate Mdalitso Khoswe Chimwaza agreed with the state that the defense should file a notice of preliminary objections.
“For purposes of according to a fair trial, the application for preliminary objections should be filed formally. In view of this, we will not proceed to hear the witness,” reads part of the magistrate’s ruling.
The magistrate has since given the defense 14 days to file an application, and thereafter, the state shall respond in a period of 14 days as well.
Counsel Malunda has also asked that the defense to include in their submissions all other preliminary objections so that they could be dealt with once and for all.
“Owing to what has been done today, we pray that you advise the defense to file all remaining issues. If they have other documents, they should also file on us so that all objections are heard and addressed,” Malunda said.
Reacting to claims by the state that the defense is playing delaying tactics, Wapona Kita downplayed the fears.
“There is no shortcut to justice. The application we are making is a serious one so we can not making any delay tactic, in fact, we cannot say in advance that will not raise any other preliminary objection because that will depend on how the state choses to conduct its case.
“If the state does not conduct the case in accordance with the law, we will raise preliminary objections at any time but, we have taken note of what the court has said,” said Kita.
On the cost of flying the witness from South African to Malawi, the state says that the South African government is taking care of that.
The case has been adjourned to 10 July 2023 for hearing of the application for dismissal of the entire extradition case.