Suspected Nurse Assaulters Get Lawyer
A mother, Esnat Selemani, 53, and daughter, Yankho Selemani, 30, who are being accused of assaulting a female nurse at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, have been granted legal representation from Legal Aid Bureau.
The two had no legal representation when they first appeared before court on Tuesday.
The Bureau’s Chief Legal Aid Advocate, Rodgers Mpombeza, told the Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court in Blantyre today that they were approached yesterday for assistance by relations of the accused.
Mpombeza, therefore, pleaded with the court to give him more time to prepare for the case before he applied for bail.
“I have two applications to make today. The first application is to seek for a seven-day adjournment for me to get and look into the disclosures for the case. I am not prepared now for substantive hearing.
“My second application is for bail of the two accused. I am making this application based on S118 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code and S42(2) of the Constitution,” he said.
Mpombeza added that the application for bail is also based on the Bail Guidelines Act, arguing that there is less likelihood that the accused can jump bail, nature of the case and less likelihood that the accused can interfere with witnesses.
“The applicants are a mother and daughter. Both stay at Machinjiri but in different houses. The second accused is married too. They have permanent residences with families and cannot, therefore, jump bail. The two were not arrested by police; they availed themselves to police; meaning that they are law-abiding citizens,” he said.
“I hear state is over with their investigations. State has already paraded three witnesses who have testified. There is little likelihood that the accused can interfere with witnesses. It is my prayer that they be granted bail with conditions,” added Mpombeza.
State Prosecutor, Isaac Kadawayula, however, objected to the applications, arguing that they are not in the interest of justice.
“The seven-day adjournment is too long. We have the disclosures now and we can serve them to defense even today for speed of the case.
“On the bail application, we also object because we have built a strong case and the accused can jump bail. The case is a felony and the applications are not in the interest of justice at this stage,” he said.
Senior Resident Magistrate, Akya Mwanyongo, ruled in defense favor for an adjournment to March 17, 2021.
“Court believes and upholds fair trial. The court needs to strike a fair balance to ensure that rights of both parties in the case are upheld.
“I will allow an adjournment to make sure that right to legal representation is utilized. On the bail application, I have reserved ruling for court to look thoroughly into it. The ruling will be made on March 17, 2021 when the court resumes,” he said.
The two accused are suspected to have assaulted the nurse, Gertrude Moffat, 26 in Ward 5A as she asked them to leave in an attempt to decongest the room as a COVID-19 preventive measure.
State will parade three more witnesses when court resumes.