The Limbe Magistrate Court in Blantyre has set aside December 28, 2011 as the day Montfort Media journalist Ernest Mahwayo will know his fate on whether or not he has a case to answer.
According to Mahwayo’s lawyer, Lusungu Gondwe, the court will make its ruling on the day after all parties in the case visited Ndata Farm in Thyolo where the journalist is alleged to have committed the offence.
The journalist was arrested in September 2011 for taking pictures of the multi-million kwacha Ndata Farm which is owned by President Bingu wa Mutharika without seeking permission from the owner.
Mahwayo, who works as an editor for a Catholic owned vernacular newspaper, Mkwaso, was charged with an offense of conduct likely to cause breach of peace, a charge he first pleaded guilty before changing his plea to “not guilty” after spending some hours in custody.
Gondwe said he was happy that the court will finally make its determination after the prosecution team delay-dallied to bring the matter in for the Magistrate’s judgment.
However, the setting aside of December 28 has come way after the same court through the sitting of First Grade Magistrate Anne Chikhadzula ordered commencement of prosecution within 30 days or else she would set him free.
The Magistrate gave the order after Gondwe applied for a discharge of the case following his observation that the state was not willing to see the matter concluded.
At the time of his arrest, Mahwayo was doing a story where he wanted to compare the current poverty levels of Malawians and the money spent on the property that also has another multi-million kwacha three story mausoleum for Mutharika’s late wife, Ethel.
The president has been widely criticized by various commentators over the manner in which he bought state of the art building. Some commentators, including representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have demanded the president to explain his wealth.