The High Court in Blantyre on Tuesday heard the appeal case for People’s Land Organisation (PLO) leader Vincent Wandela who is challenging his 18 months suspended sentence on land grab in Thyolo tea estates.
Wandale was convicted and sentenced in November 2016 on three counts of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, unauthorised use of land and criminal trespass.
He appealed appealed the conviction and sentencing, saying “ the people’s aim was to occupy the land but they did not” as they only showed intent.
Lawyer Michael Goba Chipeta argued in court that there were grave errors that the court made which occasioned actual discourage of justice.
Goba Chipeta argued that on the first count on the particulars of the offence did not specify the misdemeanour which they said the client committed, on the second count the court did not prove any use of the land and on the third count the court failed to prove the intention by Wandale to annoy the owner of the said land.
He further added that the lower Court erred in convicting Wandale on the third count—which was brought forth as an alternative count, when they had already convicted him on the main counts. The said alternative count should have been dropped and disregarded.
“The lower court erred in sentencing Wandale, the convictions on which the sentences are based being erroneous, the said sentences are wrong in principle. We pray that the convictions be quashed and sentences be set aside and Wandale be acquitted,” Chipeta argued.
The state through state advocate Collins Chitsime conceded that it made an error on the third count.
But he maiantained that the other two convictions and sentencing should stand.
High Court Judge, Justice Sylvester Kalembera then adjourned the case to April, 28 for ruling on the appeal.
Wandale was arrested on September 3 in Lilongwe in connection to an incident that happened on September 1 at Conforzi Tea Estate where hundreds of villagers invaded the estate and started sharing land for permanent settlement and cultivation. They claimed the land belonged to their fore fathers.
He was released on November 8 after spending 10 months at Chichiri prison on remand.