Oscar Taulo, a private practice lawyer who was representing Vincent Wandale in a case where he is being accused of spreading false rumours, has discharged himself from the case, citing conflicts between the two in terms of some of their positions and arguments.
Wandale appeared before Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha at Lilongwe Magistrates’ Court yesterday when the court was presented with a medical report following an application by the State that the suspect should be mentally examined before the case can continue.
However, immediately after the hearing commenced, Wandale asked that he should be permitted to be presenting some points in the course of proceedings alongside his lawyer, an arrangement which Chiotcha stated was irregular.
“I want to address the court that I will largely represent myself in the case,” Wandale said before the court asked that the suspect should discuss with his lawyer if that was his position too.
After a brief break, Taulo made an impromptu application to the court that he should stop representing Wandale, a plea which was granted.
The lawyer told the court: “There are issues which the accused wants to present himself. However, such issues would be in conflict with my positions. Such being the case, I cannot continue representing him. From now onwards, the accused will be representing himself.”
Addressing the court after his lawyer’s discharge, Wandale argued that before his medical report could be reviewed, he should be granted bail because he had spent 16 days at Maula Prison without taking plea.
The court, however, ruled that the medical report should be reviewed first before an application for bail as “the report can have a bearing on how the case progresses”.
Wandale indicated that he was against the medical report because, among other things, it was done without his consent. The contents of the report were not disclosed as Chiotcha ruled that it contained some confidential information which should only be reviewed in camera.
Head of the Malawi Police Prosecution Department, Happy Mkandawire, said after the in-camera hearing that the court had accepted the medical report.
He could, however, not disclose what is contained in the certificate.
“So, tomorrow [today] we are meeting again for other issues on the same medical report which the accused said he wants to address the court on. We are not aware of what these issues are but what is important is that the court has accepted the report and it will use it,” Mkandawire said.
Wandale was arrested late last month barely four days after his inauguration as leader of what he calls the African Traditionalist Republic of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje was postponed indefinitely due to the heavy presence of police officers around the place the ceremony was expected to take place.
His arguments for the declaration of his own state largely centre on the government’s apparent reluctance to address the land issues in the two districts.