The Lilongwe Magistrate’s court has adjourned to May 12, 2016, hearing of a case in which 19 Catholics are accused of disturbing religious service contrary to section 128 of the penal code.
Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate Shyreen Yona who is presiding over the case, adjourned the case to pave way for the state to parade the remaining four witnesses in the case.
Police prosecutor Assistant Superintendent Dave Kusamale, asked the court to adjourn the case to a later date after parading two witnesses on April 20, 2016, saying the remaining four witnesses could not make it to court on that day due to other commitments.
The hearing of the case was attended by a large number of Catholic faithful from Likuni Parish and surrounding areas, filling the court to capacity, while others followed the proceedings from the veranda of the courtroom.
Some of the sympathizers who attended the court hearing were clad in Church cloth attires, a development which the presiding magistrate condemned and has since advised those attending the case proceedings to desist from putting on the Church’s cloth or any attire to do with the Church.
Police arrested 15 people on April 3, 2016 and another 4 a day later on suspicion that they took part in the fight which erupted during a Sunday mass service at Likuni Parish following disagreements between some church members and church leadership.
The suspects which include two women and 17 men are currently on bail and have since been stopped from attending any church activities until the matter is resolved.
The accused are being represented by a Legal Aid Lawyer Clemence Chamwenda.
Disturbing religious services is a criminal case which carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment according to Kusamale.