CIVIL CASEPicture: Tenga Ngulu (second left) with some of her family members.
The case of Tenga Ngulu continues to highlight the drive that the Bureau has to assist vulnerable people in the country including people living with albinism.
Tenga Ngulu, a woman with albinism and guardian of 4 children, faced the threat of being dispossessed of her land. Ngulu inherited the land from her father and faced a threat of land grabbing from one man who claimed ownership of land and intimidated her for use of the path that leads to the land itself.
Thanks to collaborations between the Bureau and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation CHRR) and Centre for Development of People(CEDEP) directed the issue to Legal Aid Bureau to assist with matter after failed mediation attempts.
Court processes were commenced at the High Court. The Bureau’s team assigned to the matter met with the chiefs and other stakeholders in Ngulu’s area, to update them on progress.
The Court finally ruled in favor of Ngulu granting her access to the path to the land left to her from her father and the land itself for use as she needs to and thus the Judgment essentially marks the end of the land dispute and the Court action.
The Court ordered that if there is any interference by the defendant in any away with the client’s rights or use of the land and path in question, she can enforce her rights under the judgment to have the defendant arrested and/or fined for Contempt of Court.
Malawi has experienced a spate of attacks on Persons with Albinism (PWAs). The Legal Aid Bureau is therefore receiving financial support from Ministry of Gender and Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme for albinism cases through which the Bureau has handled and continues to handle many more cases of this nature.
Phillimon Sakala was accused of the offence of theft. Sakala sought legal aid from Malawi Legal Aid Bureau and the
matter was assigned to Legal Aid Bureau’s counsel Humphrey Panyanja.
Panyanja states that the accused was accused of stealing a CPU, keyboard and mouse of a computer at Chirimba Police Unit.However, after a full trial, the Court in its judgement stated that the Prosecution witnesses had mostly circumstantial evidence and evidence against the accused was very unreliable.
The judgement read that the facts as submitted cannot lead the Court to the only inference of the accused’s guilt and therefore the Court or any reasonable tribunal could safely convict the accused based on the facts presented.
The Court further highlighted that evidence presented did not indicate that the accused took the computer. Due to this, the Court acquitted the accused.
So far the criminal cases remain significantly lower in comparison to the civil cases the Bureau handles yearly despite a 32 percent increase in the cases being handled by the Bureau from 2018/2019 financial year compared to 2019/2020.
Mabvuto Magalasi spent three (3) years on remand without having his case heard. He was arrested and
charged on allegations of murdering a friend and neighbor by poisoning .
After being on remand for such a long period of time, the Legal Aid Bureau took up his case during a prison visit. Counsel for Legal Aid Bureau, Molly Nkosi was assigned to represent Magalasi in the case at Court. She says after examining the evidence presented in Court, the Court found no case for Magalasi to answer. He therefore was acquitted.
Worth mentioning is that this is one of the numerous cases handled under the financial assistance from Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme. The Programme will assist the Bureau for 5 years and currently it is in its third year of provision of assistance to the Bureau.
The Bureau continues to work hard in assisting people accused in criminal cases.
So far in the workload for criminal cases in the year 2019/2020 has increased to 4530 from 3,443 cases in 2018/2019 representing a 32 percent increase in legal assistance on criminal matters.
Trouble Chinungu a former employee of KK security can now afford to smile as the Malawi Legal Aid Bureau assisted him with his employment case.
Chinungu sustained injuries whilst on duty and never managed to get compensation for his injury.
Realizing the need for legal assistance, Chinungu sought the Bureau’s services and went through the procedure to be granted legal aid on his matter. Chinungu was granted legal aid and was assigned a lawyer to represent him.
Counsel Molly Nkosi handled the matter and she states that Chinungu pointed out that he claimed compensation for the injury in 2018, however, KK security made no move to assist him. Nkosi lodged Chinungu’s claim to KK security on behalf of the Bureau.
Nkosi says that compensation was paid out after the claim and Chinungu was compensated without proceeding to use formal Courts.
The Bureau continues to assist people in civil matters.Civil cases have increased to 8248 in the year 2019/2020 from 6793 in the year 2018/2019.
The Director and The Deputy Director for Malawi Legal Aid Bureau on Tuesday the 4th of August 2020, met His Excellency the State President of this country
Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera at Kamuzu Palace to appraise him on the work the Bureau has been doing over the 5 years of its operations.
In his presentation, the Director of the Bureau highlighted the successes the Bureau has achieved since its inception. These included setting up the operational structure of the Bureau including refurbishment and remodeling of the three regional offices of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. The President was also appraised how the Bureau has performed in rolling out legal aid services across the country by opening the Eastern Regional Office in Zomba in 2018 and opening district offices in Mulanje, Mangochi, Nkhota Kota, Mchinji and Karonga early this year.
The Director of the Bureau also took time to highlight the rather gloomy financial status of the Bureau and this has affected the operations so far.
In his response, the President commended the Bureau for striving for excellence and registering achievements within a short period of time. He assured the directors that his government will provide all the necessary support, financial and otherwise to ensure that the service is accessible to all in need.
Commenting on the meeting, the Director for Malawi Legal Aid Bureau said, the meeting with His Excellency the President was cordial and has given the Bureau fresh impetus to expand and improve on its service delivery across the country.
The deputy director for Malawi Legal Aid Bureau, Mr. Trouble Kalua, travelled to Japan earlier this week to participate in a two weeks training course organized by
JICA Tokyo on “The enhancement of access to justice through effective provision of Legal Aid”.
The training is using the case of Japan to understand how Japan developed their legal aid system and how their approach can be adopted for our local circumstances. “We may not adopt the whole of their system but we can pick and choose bits that may be modified to work for Malawi. They did the same, they also had to fuse systems from Europe and America before coming up with a model that works for Japan now. We are quite happy to walk the same paths trodden by experts,” contently expressed Counsel Kalua.
“Japan has approximately 120 million people but has successful legal system in place. It would be important to learn what they are doing to make their systems work and what lessons can be drawn from them to implement a system as equally successful in Malawi,” concludes Kalua.
The training comprises lectures from respected legal practitioners in Japan who have been involved in legal aid, study visits to the Japan Legal Support Centre, Ministry of Justice, Japan Federation of Bar Associations and Legal Aid offices and call centers. Some of the facilitators are Satoko Tomita (director of Crime Victim Support Division, Japan Legal Support Center), Naoshi Sato (Vice Chairperson on International Relations, Japan Federation of Bar Associations), Manabu Wagatsuma (Professor of Law at Tokyo Metropolitan Law School), among others.
The course has drawn participants from Malawi, Ivory Coast, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia..
Malawi Legal Aid Bureau conducted a six (6) days training themed “Trial Advocacy Training” aimed at sharpening the skills of lawyers in the institution with funding from Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme.
The training had two cohorts with a duration of 3 days each. The first cohort sat from 12th to14th of November 2019 while the second cohort sat from 18th to 20th November, 2019. Speaking to one of the Senior Legal Aid Advocates (SLAAs) for the Bureau, Peter Masiye, on the day of commencement, he expressed hope for betterment in the profession. “The kickoff is very promising that I will get better and will not be the same person at the end of these three days. And it is a great opportunity to learn from people who have a lot of years of practice and getting a chance to learn from a judge from the supreme court is a big plus for me.” he said.Masiye also hailed the Bureau’s management and Chilungamo Programme for the opportunity. One SLAA from Northern region office, Hazel Miseleni says the training has been very sharpening and has improved her understanding in other things. “The training has been an eye opener to me personally and getting the opportunity to learn from the Judge himself has hyped my morale. I now know how I can appeal a case when not satisfied with a ruling from magistrate court or high court in the Supreme court unlike before when I did not know how to go about an appeal nonetheless how to conduct myself in the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
Among other topics being tackled at the training is communication between lawyers and concerned parties in cases. It was said that many lawyers do not do well with updates to clients on progress of cases which lead to a lot of problems in the field. Along the discussions it was strongly suggested that it would be great as an institution to have practitioners with integrity of communicating with their clients. As well as documenting each and every relevant communication.
The lawyers are also being encouraged to keep a good relationship with lawyers from other institutions as the trainers say this helps in learning new things in the practice. In addition, they say it helps to know where you can refer your clients in cases where you do not handle or are not an expert.
The training had three mentors on board, Senior Counsel James Masumbu, Justice Mzikamanda (Justice of Appeal) and Counsel Khumbo Soko.
Lawyers who attended the training hailed from Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba regional offices and they were awarded certificates of attendance at the end of each three training days of a cohort.
The Bureau has now embarked on a public awareness campaign to disseminate more information about the Bureau's
services to the people. First off was Ntchisi. The turnout was good, people asked for clarification of issues
and statements were taken onsite. Over 6000 people were reached overall. Next is Karonga, Mulanje and Machinga.
All Thanks to Chilungamo justice and accountability programme a European Union program.
Do you have any legal issues clarified? Do you need legal representation or just legal advice? Do not hesitate to find us at our offices in all the regions.
Lilongwe and all Central Region: we are along Paul Kagame Highway, in Shire Building. Blantyre and all Southern Region: we are in along Victoria avenue, in Immigration Building. Mzuzu and all Northern region: We are in Osman Gani building. Zomba and all Eastern region: We are in Old Parliament Buildings.
The Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme launch held in Kasungu District on the Chinkhanga Community Ground has had the Legal Aid Bureau help several clients on different legal aid matters. We are still on the ground today attending to different clients. Please visit our Legal Aid Bureau stand on Chankhanga ground to give legal matters that concern you.
The Legal Aid Bureau, with support from the European Union (EU) through the Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme, will be taking part in the ongoing Malawi Conferederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Trade Fair. Find us at the EU Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme stand where we will be explaining about the work of the Legal Aid Bureau and the services that we provide. People will also have the opportunity of accessing our services on the spot. For those who will not make it to the tradefair, be sure to catch us live on Zodiak radio and television at 9:45AM and MBC radio and television at 11:30AM on Saturday. We will also be live on Sunday on Times radio and television at 9:00AM and MBC radio and television at 11:00AM.