Former Director-General for Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Aubrey Sumbuleta will have his humiliating sex harassment case followed by the public as High Court Judge Redson Kapindu on Thursday rejected the state’s application to have the case heard in camera.
Nevertheless, Kapindu pronounced that he will make sure that state witnesses are protected as they testify. The Judge directed that the witnesses will be testifying behind a screen that will make them invisible to the public in the court. The complainants will also be following the proceedings virtually from a separate room the court will designate for this purpose.
To ensure maxim protection of the complainants, the Judge also directed that that their names be removed from the court records and that instead, pseudonyms should be assigned to them.
However, defense argued against it saying the suspect had the right to public trial. The defendants also said the matter has already been in public domain and there was no point in keeping out the public.
The defense prayed to have the case heard in open court saying that the move will promote transparency.
Sumbuleta was arrested following a report by Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) which indicted Sumbuleta for sexually harassing MBC female employees—fishing out his member in his office with some of the female employees in an attempt to satisfy his sexual desires.
According to the Gender Equality Act, a sexual harassment conviction earns one a prison sentence of 5 years.
Section 6 of the Gender Equality Act provides that “a person commits an act of sexual harassment if he or she engages in any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances would have anticipated that the other person would be offended humiliated or intimidated” further providing a penalty that “ a person who sexually harasses another in terms of subsection (I) commits an offence and is liable to a fine of one million Kwacha (K 1,000,000) and to a term of imprisonment for five ( 5) years.