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Malawi court relaxes Masangwi, Ngalande bail conditions in Chasowa murder case

The High Court in Blantyre has varied bail conditions for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor for the South, Noel Masangwi and two other suspects who were arrested in connection with murder of university student activist Robert Chasowa.

The two others are DPP youth director Lewis Ngalande and Samuel Chulu.

High Court judge, Joseph Manyungwa upheld the application on the order for variation of bail conditions by lawyer Chancy Gondwe after the State consented to the proposed changes.

Gondwe had asked the court to vary the K250, 000 cash bail bond each surety in the case provided.

“Since up to-date the State has not taken any step to formally charge the accused and are still complying with bail conditions, we, therefore, seek variation of police reporting time from twice a week to once a month; and turn the cash bail bond for sureties into non-cash,” Gondwe said in submission of his affidavits.

He added: “The variation will still be in accordance to the interest of justice the court intends to address in this case despite some of the bail conditions relaxed”.

In his ruling, Justice Manyungwa varied the cash bail bond for sureties to non-cash and ordered the accused to be reporting to Southern Region Police twice a month fortnightly (on Friday).

“In this circumstance, since the State did not object, and in line with Section 118 of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code, the court will vary the conditions,” Manyungwa ruled.

Background

Masangwi and nine others were arrested in November 2012 before released on bail by the High Court as suspects in the Polytechnic engineering student, Robert Chasowa’s murder.

Judge Sylvester Kalembera ordered Masangwi and his alleged accomplices to pay a bail bond of K200, 000 each, and provide two sureties each with every surety providing bond of K250, 000 cash.

The court had also demanded the suspects to report to Southern Region Police Headquarters twice a week-on Mondays and Fridays-surrender their travelling documents, and seek permission from Police Commissioner for the South when leaving Blantyre.

Chasowa, who studied engineering, was found dead at a college campus Blantyre in September 2011. Police said he had jumped to his death from a five-storey building and produced bogus suicide note as evidence.

But a Justice Andrew Nyirenda-led inquiry ordered by President Joyce Banda ruled that Chasowa was murdered.

The inquiry report implicated about 14 people includes some DPP top officials. Banda promised that the culprits would “face the full wrath of the law”.

Chasowa was the chairman of a student activist group, Youth for Democracy (YFD), which published anti-Mutharika government leaflets before his death.

Some of those arrested in connection to his death include boxing promoter, Mike “Bangwe One’ Chitenje, Police constable, Stanford Horea, Stoni John and Isaac ‘Mtopwa One’ Osman, Frank Julius, Dolph Geoffrey Botomani and Petros Tembo.

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