High Court wants Edward examined for mental soundness

Edward Muyira

The High Court sitting at Karonga has ordered the State to have Karonga-based Edward Muyira examined for his mental capacity as his homicide case proceeds.

Edward was arrested in 2022 on suspicion that he killed his father. It was heard in Court that on 20th November 2022, the suspect unexpectedly became mad to the extent of burning his clothes. The madness became out of hand when Edward was violent.

Looking at the condition, Edward’s older brother went to call for help from neighbors, leaving him behind with his sister and father. Upon return, it was observed that the sister and the father were lying in the house unconscious. They were taken to the hospital immediately. The father died the next day while the sister survived.

A postmortem was conducted and a report from the doctor indicated that death was due to severe head injury and trauma. When arrested, Edward was noted to be mentally unstable but was still declared fit to stand trial. Malawi Legal Aid Bureau has since been representing him in the matter.

On 21 December 2023, the Bureau through Principal Legal Aid Advocate Chikondi Duke expressed worry over the prolonged stay of the suspect in prison when progress is not being made. Duke told the Court that it is more worrisome that an assessment of the suspect’s mental capacity would not be done after several attempts. He prayed for Edward’s release on bail so that someone should be looking after him at home.

The State on its part indicated that it needs more time to examine him since releasing the suspect on bail would not be in the interest of justice. The State further told the Court that the safety of people around the suspect would not be guaranteed since he was suspected of having killed his father after smoking hemp.

The Bureau insisted that bail should be granted as facts have not been proven yet and he is still presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“Being alleged to have caused the death of his father is not reason enough to continue keeping him in prison. I’m afraid that continued adjournments of this case will be coming at the expense of the right to bail for the accused,” worried Duke.

High Court Judge Justice Justuce Kishindo in his response pointed out that the accused was arrested in 2022 and during his time in prison, the State has suspected that he is mentally unstable, but little has been done about it.

“As the matter stands, trial cannot commence as we are unsure of who we are dealing with. On 7th September, Court ordered a mental examination to take place but that has not been done,” added Justice Kishindo.

He then ordered that from 21st December 2023, the State has 45 days to carry out a mental examination of Edward Muyira at Zomba Mental Hospital. If the period expires without the examination being done, the Court will provide conditions of bail without the Bureau making bail submissions.

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