Activists condemn arrests of ‘insulting’ Malawi President Joyce Banda

Malawi’s prominent human rights activist Billy Mayaya has criticized the government for arresting two women from the southern district of Mwanza for allegedly insulting or undermining the authority of President Joyce Banda.

According to published reports, two women,  26-year-old Eliza Kusheni and Dorothy Ng’onga, 24, are claiming police arrested them last week for insulting President Banda and her ruling People’s Party (PP) after they refused to receive PP cloth and dance for the President.

The women were released on bail on Monday by the Mwanza Magistrate’s Court after spending almost five days in police custody.

“ It is despicable that with the recent impunity endured under the DPP, Malawians have to continue to live in fear because they are not being allowed to support the party of their choice,” Mayaya, who is a member of rights group Civic and Political Space Platform, told Nyasa Times.

“As civil society, we would like to categorically condemn these acts of wanton brutality which are not in line with the expectations of a democratic society,” he added.

Mayaya: It is despicable that Malawians have to continue to live in fear

The two women were given bail without paying any bond and the court ruled that they should be reporting to the police station every Monday, according to a report in The Nation.

The bail documents show that the two were charged with use of insulting language contrary to Section 182 of the Penal Code.

Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda also cautioned government against “arbitrary arrests”.

President Banda  came to power in April  after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika in office, becoming the fourth president after Mutharika,  Bakili Muluzi and despotic founder president Kamuzu Banda who led the country to independence from British rule in 1964.

During Mutharika regime, four security guards of the international firm GS4 were arrested in Lilongwe and charged with insulting the president after a driver of the ruling party reported them to the police.

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