High Court releases 7 death row convicts

The 9 convicts while in Court

The High Court of Malawi sitting at Zomba has delivered sentences to nine murder convicts who had been sentenced to the mandatory death penalty resulting in the immediate release of seven of the convicts.

The nine were convicted of murder and were sentenced to suffer the mandatory death penalty with the earliest having been arrested 25 years ago. At that time, the law provided that once one is convicted of murder, the death sentence should automatically be imposed.

However, on 27 April 2007, the Constitutional Court in the case of Francis Kafantayeni and Others Vs Attorney General (Constitutional Case No. 12 of 2005) held that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty was unconstitutional.

With the Kafantayeni judgment, partners in the elimination of the death penalty commenced a project of sentence rehearing for all concerned convicts.

As all other murder convicts concerned were resentenced, these nine, Charles Tseka, Charles Khoviwa, McLemonce Yasini, Cydreck Nambazo, Maison Nampanga, Twoboy Jacob, Elias Chimenya, Binwell Thifu, and Jackson Chinkango were still waiting because there were some legal issues about their cases.

One of the convicts, Charles Khoviwa took up his case to the Supreme Court of Appeal. In 2021, the Supreme Court of Appeal handed over a judgment to the effect that these nine convicts were also entitled to be resentenced and that the sentence rehearing was to be done in the High Court.

The nine convicts were therefore brought before the High Court for sentence rehearing. On 20 December 2023, the High Court, Zomba district registry through Honourable Justice Dick Sankhulani handed down the sentence rulings for the nine convicts where fixed terms of imprisonment have resulted in the immediate release of seven.

The success registered is a result of years of consistent and good work from a huge group of people, including students, caseworkers, and lawyers in Malawi and abroad.

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