The self proclaimed leader of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje and Peoples’ Land Organisation (PLO), Vincent Wandale, pleaded not guilty Thursday to four charges of conspiracy to commit misdemeanour, unauthorised use of land, inciting violence and criminal trespass.
Wandale was arrested on September 2 2016 while 21 of his followers were arrested on September 1.
He led a group of people who invaded Conforzi Plantations Limited ready to share land currently under the Conforzi Tea Estate claiming that the land was grabbed from their forefathers by the tea estate owners.
Making his plea, Wandale told Blantyre Magistrate court that he denied all the charges pressed against him.
Asked by Presiding over the case, Senior Resident Magistrate Thokozani Soko if he understood the charges, Wandale , who is a civil servant said “yes”.
When told to make his plea, Wandale said: “Not guilty.”
His vice Chrispin Nkhoma also pleaded not guilty.
Amongst 21 of his followers, one is a minor aged at 16 and was exempted from the case to be tried at Childs Magistrates.
The other 20 suspects also pleaded not guilty.
The case has since been adjourned to September 12 2016 for commencement of hearing of the case and parading of witnesses
Meanwheil, PLO, a group that is fighting for land for locals in Thyolo and Mulanje from tea estate owners, is mobilising online signatures to petition President Peter Mutharika to free Wandale and the members.
In the petition, the group members argue that the release of the suspects will create a platform for meaningful dialogue to resolve the matter.
Petition coordinator Paliani Chinguwo said the petition will be submitted or brought to the immediate attention of the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :