Malawian Pastor fined K3,000 for insulting President Banda

A Lilongwe based pastor, Andrew Kowedza, Thursday paid a K3, 000 fine, escaping a 6 month’s jail term for insulting President Joyce Banda.

The pastor of an undisclosed Pentecostal church in the capital city was brought before the Dedza First Grade Magistrate court on Wednesday to answer a charge of “conduct likely to cause breach of peace” following his outbursts against President Banda after he got angry with traffic police.

Police Publicist for Dedza police Sergeant Edward Kabango said the pastor was travelling from Blantyre to Lilongwe in a Nissan salon carregistration number MH 3952 when traffic police at Chimbiya in Dedza fined the driver of the car K5, 000 for over-speeding.

“The driver paid the fine. However, before the car started off, Kowedza started making serious allegations against the Head of State. He claimed he knew that all spot fines being collected by traffic police officers are being used by the President to enrich herself,” Kabango said.

Kabango: The Pastor insulted the President

Kabango: The Pastor insulted the President

Kowedza, 36, who comes from Ngwenya village Traditional Authority Kaphuka in the district was arrested and appeared before the court where he pleaded guilty.

“In mitigation, he asked the court for leniency saying he looks after his aged mother who is suffering from stroke and further said if he goes to jail then his evangelism ministry will die,” Kabango said.

In his verdict, First Grade Damiano Chibwana Banda said although Kowedza was a first time offender and admitted guilt in court; he still needed punishment to discipline him. He, therefore, fined him K3, 000 or in default should serve a six month jail term which he immediately paid.

Recently, a court in a northern Malawi city of Mzuzu convicted a resident for calling President Banda “stupid” and a “failure”.

Japhet Chirwa pleaded guilty to the charge of “conduct likely to cause breach of the peace”.

The police prosecutor told the court that Chirwa, frustrated that the Department of Immigration had rejected his request for a new passport, blamed the government’s bureaucratic red tape on the “stupidity and failure” of President  Banda, the country’s first female president.

The magistrate found him guilty and fined him 15, 000 Malawi kwacha (about $44) or, in default, to serve nine months in jail. Chirwa paid the fine.

Activists have been calling for a review of laws that protect the name and the person of the President, saying they run counter to freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

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