Police in Malawi’s eastern region of Balaka are keeping in custody a man arrested on allegations of denigrating and insulting President Joyce Banda.
According to Balaka police public relations officer sub-inspector Joseph Sauka, 28-year old Paul Phiri was arrested Wednesday for saying that President Banda was “stupid” to open a Maternity wing in the district recently when the District Commissioner could have easily been delegated to do the same job.
Sauka said Phiri, who made the insults while at one of the drinking joints in the district, will appear before court soon to “answer charges of use of insulting language [against the State President].”
This is the second time in three months that someone has been arrested for insulting President Banda.
Last July, the Mzuzu First Grade Magistrate Court fined Japhet Chirwa, 37, K15 000 – or serve nine months in prison with hard labour – for calling Banda “stupid” and a “failure” after getting furious with Immigration Department authorities whom he suspected had been delaying his passport.
Elsewhere, Thyolo Third Grade Magistrate granted bail to a 33 year old man who was arrested on 7th October this year for allegedly insulting President Banda.
Police Prosecutor, Inspector Loyd Kachotsa told the court on Monday that Dafter Chataika met Margret Bwaila who is a People’s Party supporter at Luchenza municipal market and he started insulting the woman for being royal to the PP.
Kachotsa added that it is alleged that in the process of the verbal war between the two, Chataika started insulting the President calling her all sorts of bad names.
Meanwhile, Chataika has been charged with conduct likely to cause breach of peace contrary to section 181 of the penal code.
“We have given him this charge because the matter attracted a huge crowd which could have led to commotion at the trading centre. But we are still investigating the matter and after our investigations, we will see if we can change the charge with reference to the Presidential and Parliamentary Act and if we establish that he indeed insulted the president we will charge him accordingly,” said Kachotsa.
He added that after the investigation the police will ask the court for the date of the hearing of the case. Chataika has however, denied the charge.
Third Grade Magistrate, Mtunduwatha Mpaso ordered him to pay K4,000 and produce a surety bonded at K10,000 cash as conditions for his bail.
Chataika comes from Lolo Village Sub-Traditional Authority Nanseta in Thyolo district.
Under Chapter 18: 03 Section 4 of the Protected Names, Flags and Emblems Act which were designed to preserve the dignity of an incumbent President and his/her office: “any person who does any act or utter any word or published or utters any writing calculated to or libel to insult, ridicule or to show disrespect with reference to the President, the National Flag, the armorial ensigns, the public seal or protected likeness shall be liable to a fine of 1 000 pounds (Sterling) and to imprisonment for two years.”—(Additional reporting by Green Muheya, Nyasa Times)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :