Malawi judge says court premises not political demo grounds

A Malawian High Court Judge, Ivy Kamanga has advised political parties to respect courts premises and desist from turning the courts into demonstration grounds to chant abusive songs.

Justice Kamanga made the advice in her ruling which she granted bail to 11 people accused of treason.

The accused include opposition DPP acting president Peter Mutharika, younger brother to the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, Economic Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe, the interdicted head of the public service Bright Msaka and his deputy Necton Mhura.

The DPP supporters, following the arrest of their leader and others, reacted violently by holding demonstrations and damaging private and government property in Blantyre and Lilongwe cities.

interdicted head of the public service Bright Msaka: Faces treason charges

interdicted head of the public service Bright Msaka: Faces treason charges

They have also been acting violently at the court premises and sung songs demonizing President Joyce Banda and even insulting her womanhood.

“I witnessed some of the violent acts myself,” said Justice Kamanga in her ruling.

“I heard for myself the songs by the people. The conduct of the men and women were acts likely to cause breach of peace. I wonder whether the courts are no longer a protected area by law,” she said.

Others in the case are former ministers Patricia Kaliati (Information and Civic Education), Symon Vuwa Kaunda (Sports and Youth Development), Jean Kalilani (Health) and Henry Mussa (Local Government and Rural Development), as well as former deputy ministers Kondwani Nankhumwa (Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) and Nicholas Dausi (Office of the President and Cabinet).

The suspects were arrested on Monday for the roles they played in events surrounding the death of former Malawi president, Bingu wa Mutharika, and the subsequent transfer of power.  They were on Thursday released on bail by Justice Kamanga.

However, they were also ordered to stop commenting on the charges publicly, effectively curtailing their freedom of expression while on bail.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Apoche Itimu said the State would not appeal against the bail ruling but would proceed to prepare for the case.

Trial date is yet to be set. They are yet to make plea.

Treason in Malawi attracts a maximum of death penalty.

DPP lawmaker Anna Kachikho broke into uncontrollable chants upon hearing that the bail application was successful.

DPP lawmaker Anna Kachikho broke into uncontrollable chants upon hearing that the bail application was successful.

DPP supporters happy

DPP supporters happy

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