Tears of disbelief rolled the cheeks of a sister and brothers of Joseph Mathews, a 39-year-old cyber stalking suspect, when Magistrate Damiano Banda pronounced that he had unconditionally freed him on requested from the victim in the case– Member of Parliament (MP) for Kasungu West Jailosi Bonongwe.
Bonongwe pleaded with Banda to let go of the man who falsely accused and damaged his reputation and image through a false and damaging story he posted on his Facebook account titled ‘Friends Connect Malawi’ on February 17, 2022.
In the article, the suspect claimed that Bonongwe was in hot soup for diverting two trucks of relief maize intended for his hungry constituents.
He added that the parliamentarian had instead kept the maize at his house where he later sold to vendors.
The suspect further claimed that traditional leaders and community members in the constituency were to hold vigils at the lawmaker’s house to force him to return the relief maize.
When Bonongwe approached him, Matthews demanded K50, 000 for him to retract the story.
“Hon [Honourable], you can send it to 0888 596 214,” he wrote in his text to the legislator.
However, Bonongwe said he could manage K10, 000 to which the suspect responded, “I have talked to the team, they are asking for only K20, 000. Once the transaction has been completed, you will let us know. You will send us the picture so that we can retract the story.”
This prompted Bonongwe to report the matter to police at Area 30 in Lilongwe.
And through its cyber crime detectives, the Lilongwe Police Station launched “a manhunt, which led to the arrest of Mathews in Blantyre on February 28, 2022.”
Mathews, who hails from Jason Vilage, Traditional Authority Sabwe in Thyolo, was eventually arrested in Blantyre and was charged with cyber stalking, which contravenes section 88 of Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act.
On Friday, the suspect appeared magistrate Damiano Banda of Kasungu Magistrate Court where he pleaded guilty to two counts levelled against him.
But a police prosecutor informed the court that Bonongwe had requested him to close the case “because it is not his intention to punish those who have wronged him.”
At this point, the prosecutor invited the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) lawmaker to the dock to inform the court why he had decided to forgive the suspect.
Bonongwe said he was only worried about his reputation and image. He said he was happy that the suspect was finally arrested and truth had been laid bare among his constituents.
“As a human being and as a person who serves the people in my capacity as member of Parliament, I would not want to punish anyone. I just believe that his arrest and my forgiveness will serve as a big lesson to him and others with similar intentions. He wronged me, but I have wholeheartedly forgiven him; hence, this request to the court to close the case,” he said.
And as Banda pronounced his freedom for Matthews, his sister and two brothers – who accompanied him to Kasungu for court hearing – could not control their emotions, with the sister weeping in disbelief.
She thanked Bonongwe for sparing their brother time in jail for the crime.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :