Dozens of civil society organisations have urged the government to release a report into South Africa's police methods, conducted by a panel of experts set up in the wake of the 2012 Marikana massacre - when police fired into groups of striking miners, killing 34 and leaving more than 70 injured. The report closely examined police methods and related issues and could have played an important role in relation to a pending Bill related to the police. But though it was to have been released this week, it has now been indefinitely blanketed, prompting urgent calls for the secrecy to be lifted.
In a further stunning reversal for Malawi’s former President, Peter Mutharika, he and a former high court judge, Lloyd Muhara, have been ordered personally to pay the legal costs of a case brought to reverse a major decision taken by them just before the elections at which Mutharika was voted out of office. By that decision they hoped to force the Chief Justice to go on leave, pending retirement, in retaliation for a judicial decision finding that the May 2019 elections were invalid. Muhara, who had moved from the bench to government offices as a secretary to cabinet, wrote official letters on behalf of government, announcing the decision about the CJ, a decision the courts have since found to have been unconstitutional and made in bad faith.
Relatives of people murdered allegedly on the orders of prominent politicians in Lesotho have gone to court to challenge a new agreement brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Under this agreement, all parties have been urged to join talks on the way forward for the country, and those now in exile out of fear of being charged with murder and other crimes, have been assured no action would be taken against them if they returned for the talks. Bereaved relatives, however, told the court this was an unlawful step, and that the grant of immunity undermined the powers of the prosecuting authorities. Argument on this crucial issue has been heard over a number of days by Lesotho’s constitutional court, and the three judges who presided have now given their decision.
When a Tanzanian court clerk appealed against his conviction and sentence for corruptly demanding payments from a would-be litigant at court, he did not realise that his faulty sums would help confirm his guilt. What Judge Amour Khamis would later describe as ‘unstable arithmetic’ convinced the court that there was no truth in the explanation given for the payments and that conviction and sentence should be confirmed.
Normally a reader might have little sympathy for someone convicted of murder who is serving time in prison. But the case of Malawian Charles Khoviwa is rather different. Sitting on death row for many years, Khoviwa has been trying to have sentence in his case reconsidered, now that the courts have decided that the mandatory death penalty, in force at the time of his conviction, is unconstitutional. His appeal, asking for a re-sentencing hearing, was argued nearly three years ago before a full bench of the Supreme Court – and still judgment has not been delivered. Now a single judge of that court has decided to grant him bail, saying it was not the fault of Khoviwa that ‘the judgment he awaits has been pending for so long’. After serving 18 years in prison, Khoviwa may now wait at home for the decision on whether he will be granted a re-hearing on sentence.