Journalist Ernest Mahwayo who was arrested in 2011 for taking pictures at late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s Ndata farm has dragged Malawi government to court demanding a hefty compensation of K50 million, Nyasa Times can reveal.
Mahwayo was nabbed while taking pictures without permission at the farm situated in Thyolo district and spent some days in the cooler. The mansion came into the spotlight when civil society leaders requested that Mutharika explain his wealth. He was reportedly pursuing a story on the history of Ndata Farm.
But when the matter was brought before the court this year, the Limbe Magistrate Court acquitted the journalist saying the case lacked merit.
Mahwayo, a sub-editor for Mkwaso newspaper – a vernacular publication published by Montfort media, a publishing Company owned by the Catholic Church in Balaka district, eastern Malawi, told Nyasa Times that he has instructed his lawyers to make the demand from government arguing that he found the behaviour police to keep him in custody for days as disturbing.
“I was harassed, tortured both physically and mentally for simply taking pictures, as such soon after the acquittal I instructed my lawyer to take the matter further so that I should get compensation,” disclosed Mahwayo.
He justified his decision to claim K50 million saying he was arrested in the line of duty hence the need for him to get such a huge compensation.
Said he: “I was abused, my camera and phones confiscated and to make matters worse I spent days in police custody for no apparent reasons at all; it was all out of political machinations.
“This I hope will be a lesson to police officers to remain professional and avoid being used by politicians in future; so yes, I deserve to be paid such compensation and I’m confident I will have my way.”
This is the first time in Malawi’s history that a journalist is standing up against the government to demand such a whopping compensation.
Late Mutharika led administration ruled Malawi with an iron fist and several professionals and ordinary Malawians paid dearly for crossing the fallen tyrant’s path.