The absence from court of Uladi Mussa Thursday forced the High Court in Lilongwe to adjourn the case in which the former minister of Home Affairs and the former Senior Assistant Chief Immigration Officer, David Kwanjana, are accused of aiding foreigners to unlawfully acquire passports and citizenship documents.
Lawyers for Mussa, Paul Maulidi and Henry Kadzakumanja told the court that their client could not attend the hearing due to the death of Mufti Cassim Abbas, an influential Muslim leader and uncle to Mussa’s wife.
Maulidi said Abbas was very close to the Mussa family and in the circumstances the court was supposed to adjourn to Friday.
“I am fully aware that it is possible for the hearing to continue even in the absence of the accused. But considering that this is a critical witness, I pray that the case be adjourned to enable our client to attend the hearing, for the purposes of the cross-examination,” Maulidi said.
But High Court Judge Chifundo Kachale said he was reluctant to adjourn the case which has experienced and competent lawyers who can ably represent their clients.
“I think you can take notes for the purposes of your client. I know issues of funerals and the need to respect the same but the case progress is important. What if that happens to another accused person considering the time we have for the case? I respect your client’s situation but, looking at the time, we have to make progress,” Kachale said.
Lead s tate prosecutor Kamudoni Nyasulu agreed with the court’s proposal with a suggestion of Mussa appearing in court yesterday afternoon.
“Islamic funeral that happened Thursday cannot take the whole day,” Nyasulu said.
However, there was an objection from Kadzakumanja, who said travelling from Mangochi to Lilongwe takes hours and it would not be possible for Mussa to be in court.
Kachale then reluctantly adjourned the case to 8 o’clock in the morning of Friday.
Mussa and Kwanjana are answering two counts of negligent of official duty and using public office to the advantage of somebody.
Some Burundians, Rwandans and Ugandans in the case are suspected to have influenced Mussa and Kwanjana to unlawfully approve the Malawian citizenship applications for 50 foreigners.
Mussa recently, joined the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, a move many saw as way of seeking protection from the law.