Malawi journo beating: Ex-soldier Chilinda muckraked, arrested

Parliamentary chief security officer Youngson Chilinda has been widely condemned for beating up Nation Publications Limited (NPL) photojournalist Thoko Chikondi.

Joining the chorus of condemning Chilinda is newspaper columnist Raphael Tenthani and an association of photographers.

Writing in his Muckraking column in the Sunday Times newspaper, Tenthani mocked Chilinda that he should have flexed his muscles on pugilist Isaac Chilemba or Agness Mtimaukanena.

“Chilinda must know that as a public officer working for a public office on public premises nobody needs to seek his permission to get his picture taken.  Malawians pay for Chilinda’s stay at parliament. If he does not want his picture taken without his consent, then he has no business easting out our taxes,” wrote Tenthani.

Chilinda beating journalist Chikondi

Chilinda beating journalist Chikondi

The columnist says Chilinda must not only ne held criminally accountable “for his misplaced boxing antics” but Parliament must act on him.

Spokesperson for the National Assembly Leonard Mengezi told the media on Friday that the institution would act on the matter after receiving an official complaint from NPL.

Tenthani who also corresponds with international news organisations including BBC and Associated Press hailed Thoko Chikondi, saying she  is  “one of the few female journalists who have burst the stereo-type barrier that photo-journalism is a man’s domain.”

According to the columnist, Chikondi has won international awards and takes pictures for reputable international media organisations.

Photographers Association of Malawi (Photama) has also said it is deeply amazed with Chilinda’s action/

“Photojournalists are professionals tasked with bearing witness to matters of national importance and public interest and that was exactly what Thoko was trying to do- discharging her professional duties, and this task is exceptionally imperative when there are touchy issues such as the one the consumers association was performing.

“And just like other professionals, photojournalists have a public duty to carry out and they should, at every point, be provided maximum protection, which in this case, Mr. Chilinda, as a retired soldier, should have been the first to champion,” reads in part the statement  signed by its president Lucky Mkandawire.

The National Media Institute of Malawi also condemned the action and queried the Malawi Parliament to discipline the perpetrator.

Arrested

Meanwhile, Chilinda  was arrested Saturday afternoon, police confirmed.

Chilinda was arrested in the Capital City, according to Lilongwe Police spokesperson Ramsey Mushani.

Mushani said the suspect will appear in court soon, but could not disclose the charges the former soldier and football referee will face.

The Malawi National Assembly is meeting for the 2013/14 fiscal budget.

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