Businessman hires South African lawyer to prosecute ‘midnight 6’ coup plotters

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Businessperson Watson Katawa, who is suing six former Cabinet ministers for sedition and conduct likely to cause breach of peace over their controversial news conference addressed at night on April 5 2012 to announce the blocking of the then vice-president Joyce Banda from assuming the presidency, has hired a South African lawyer.

Under probe

Katawa said in an interview on Tuesday that he has secured the services of a South African lawyer, Mark Sydne, to beef up a team of local lawyers.

“It is true that I have hired the services of a South African lawyer who is my long time business associate and [he] has shown interest to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion,” said Katawa.

Katawa, from Usisya in Nkhata Bay, said the foreign lawyer was already in the country perusing through the case files as the team is waiting for consent from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“The lawyer will be unveiled soon but he is already on the case file working with the other lawyers. He is experienced in such matters and he is determined to successfully prosecute the matter,” he said.

However, Malawi Law Society (MLS) president John-Gift Mwakhwawa said recently that the law provides for private prosecution, but that some cases can only be pursued privately after obtaining consent from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The former ministers wanted in court are Patricia Kaliati, who read the statement during the news conference, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Dr Jean Kalilani, Henry Mussa, Nicholas Dausi and Kondwani Nakhumwa.

Two weeks ago, Katawa said he was under pressure to drop the case, claiming two of the ex-ministers telephoned him pleading that he stops pursuing the matter since President Joyce Banda preached about forgiveness.

Among the things that the ministers said during the news conference which received wide condemnation from various quarters, including MLS, was that Banda’s formation of the People’s Party (PP) precludes her from ascending to the presidency

The news conference came after Banda had addressed the media advocating for the respect of Section 83 (4) of the Constitution which was also echoed by former president Bakili Muluzi at a separate press briefing.

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