Academician, human rights activist and politician Jessie Kabwila has pleaded not guilty to two counts of proposing violence and uttering words to prejudice of the Constitution Court.
Kabwila, who looked calm and composed in her plain grey skirt and jacket suit , entered her plea of not guilty when she appeared before Lilongwe Magistrate Court on Monday following her arrest on Saturday night in Lilongwe.
She was formally charged charged with the first count of proposing violence at an assembly, contrary to Section 87 sub Section 1 (A) of the Penal Code.
The former parliamentarian for Salima North West has also been charged with an offence of uttering words to the prejudice of judicial proceedings contrary to Section 113 subSection 1 (D) of the Penal Code.
Asked what would be her plea to the charges, Kwabila, a UTM Party executive member, denied any wrong doing.
The State through police prosecutor Cecilia Zangazanga said they have submitted 90% of disclosures and were ready for trial having one witness who was ready in the court.
In the case, the State is accusing Kabwila if making a statement “calculated or likely to incite violence or induce persons to assemble to do physical harm to persons or damage property by urging the gathering to deal with persons supporting the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission [MEC] Justice Jane Ansah”.
She is accused of making a speech to the prejudice of the impending judicial judgement to be delivered by a five-judge panel in the constitutional case concerning the May 21 2019 presidential results.
The charges emanated from remarks Kabwila made on January 9 in Chichewa: “Sitizagonjera amene akuseweretsa Constitution yathu… Ngati kuli wina akudziwuza kuti azigwilira anthu, ife tikuti tithana naye… Pamalawi pano panunkha mphira winawake akapereka chigamulo chachibwana chifukwa ifeyo sitilola…” (We will not let anybody to tamper with our Constitution. We will deal with anybody raping women. If the court makes an unfair judgment, this country will smell smoke….”
Kabwila, who is a senior member of UTM, a political party of former vice president Saulos Chilima, allegedly issued the threats on Friday during a demonstration organized by a civil society group called Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) to force Acting Inspector General Duncan Mwapasa to arrest and prosecute his officers who allegedly raped women in Mpingu and Mbwatalika in October last year when they had operations following the death of their fellow senior officer Usuman Imedi.
Defence lawyer Khwima Mchizi made an application for bail but the State pleaded for continued remand for Kabwila, saying her charges are felony and that she poses a threat to the nation.
Zangazanga said keeping her in custody is to safeguard her life.
But lawyer Mchizi, trashed the reasons for her continued being held in custody saying the state failed to provide proper details on what they meant in their withholding statements.
Meanwhile, ruling for bail has been pended to Tuesday as Kabwila will spend another night in the cooler.
Chants of ‘osaopa’ (no fear) from the sympathisers prompted the police to let the Kabwila address the crowd of UTM supporters before taking her behind bars.
“Freedom is coming. I plead with you to keep calm,” she said.
Before she dumped Malawi Congress Party (MCP) early last year, Kabwila was arrested and charged with treasonous offence over a WhatsApp conversation she had with other party officials on how they could topple President Mutharika’s government.
A former lecture at the University of Malawi, Kabwila is accredited for championing the fight for academic freedom at Chancellor College.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :