….only SA officials with statements
The South African Justice Department says it will send its officials to testify in the extradition case which it wants Prophet Shepered Bushiri to be tried in the country.
The Department which has released a copy of the ruling by High Court Judge Bruno Kalemba, no witnesses in the case against Bushiris will have to travel to Malawi nor be physically present in court to avoid trauma and embarrassment.
“In my judgement, therefore, protection of the sexual offences witnesses from being exposed to trauma and embarrassment when they come to Malawi does not rise. They will not come to Malawi, nor will other witnesses at the impending trial,” reads part of the ruling.
It continues, ” To satisfy the requirements under section 9 (4) (a ) of the Extradition Act their evidence will be tendered in court in form of witness statements. Those witnesses statements will have to comply with the prescriptions of section 13 of the Extradition Act.”
The Court judgement further reads, “Witnesses to a preliminary inquiry / extradition hearing are representatives / agents of the requesting state who will be able to answer questions and be cross-examined by the fugitive on the issues on Section 6.”
The South African government department said only it is ready to comply and its officials will travel to Malawi to testify on a set list of questions in relation to the extradition hearing..
The department said it sought to provide clarity on the matter following the Malawi High Court’s judgment which overturned last year’s ruling that allowed witnesses to give evidence virtually before a South African court.
Bushiri and his wife Mary had appealed the ruling of the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court, arguing for witnesses to physically be present in a Malawian court in order to testify in the extradition hearing.
“We believe the judgment speaks for itself. The judgment of the High Court of Malawi clarifies that an extradition hearing is not a trial. The judgment also resolves the questions around what type of witness are required for the extradition hearing,” the department’s spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said in a statement.
Phiri said the officials would testify on a set list of questions in relation to the hearing.
Phiri said the ruling also clarified the “protection of the sexual offences witnesses from being exposed to trauma and embarrassment when they come to Malawi does not arise. They will not come to Malawi, nor will other witnesses at the impending trial”.
The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court had initially ruled that the witnesses should travel to Malawi in June 2021 before the state filed a review application to set aside the judgment.
The judgment in the review application was delivered on 8 February 2022 in Lilongwe.