Malawi journalist arrested over articles online: Justice Mponda

Police in Blantyre have arrested journalist Justice Mponda for publishing stories on Malawi Voice online deemed seditious, false and treasonous aimed at fomenting public anger against the Joyce Banda administration, Nyasa Times has established.

Mponda was picked in the wee hours of Monday by heavily armed police officers in an armored vehicle at his Chiwembe residence in Blantyre.

He was taken to Blantyre police station for questioning where he is expected to be formally charged.

Mponda: Arrested

The sources further said among the top stories the  publication carried and are deemed to have compromised national security include, the one alleging that President Banda had resigned, the article forced the Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu to dispel the report in a statement.

The article stemmed from a fake Facebook account of the President which Mponda is linked to have been using.

The other one is the latest Malawi-Tanzania border wrangle where the paper alleged that Malawi Government has given 48 hours to Tanzanian High Commissioner Patrick Tsere to leave the country.

It alleged that the Tanzanian diplomat  was declared persona non grata and has been required to leave the country following an interview on a local radio, Zodiak.

Government refuted the story.

“The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs categorically refutes the scandalous and baseless allegation that the Malawi has declared persona non-grata the Tanzanian High Commissioner to Malawi, His Excellency Patrick Tsere,” said Malawi Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Ralph Kasambara in a statement.

Police said during the arrest, they also confiscated several gadgets like computers and cameras  “which we believe he has been using to publish the seditious storie.”

According to police, he also falsely published that the Chinese Government has withdrawn construction of the 40, 000 seater stadium because Malawi government keeps changing venue. This was proved to be a cooked up story.

Mponda, 27, becomes the first journalist in Banda’s government to face criminal charges.

There was no immediate comment from Misa-Malawi chapter chairperson Anthony Kasunda while southern region spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa refused to comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, at the time of posting this story, Mponda’s lawyer Chancy Gondwe was fighting for police bail.

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