A reporter for The Sunday Times newspaper, Clement Chinoko, was no Monday detained by Malawi Police Service for questioning because of a story that falsely reported that two women had held an engagement becoming the country’s first ‘lesbian couple’ to do so in public.
Police said they were questioning Chinoko for “publishing false news with intent to cause alarm to the public”.
“The article and the names of the women in the story are false. The women were hired to shoot a film but ended up seeing their pictures in a newspaper article as having had same-sex engagement,” Police spokesperson for the southern region, Nicholas Gondwa said.
The two women who were identified as Regina Mmangausi and Ruth Banda (not their real names) were photographed in romantic positions in the publication.
The Sunday Timesone of the titles of the media giant – Blantyre Newspapers Limited – reported the ‘lesbian couple’ intends to “marry each other soon.”
The women’s private attorney Chancy Gondwe of Chamgwanjira chambers said the pictures were taken during a drama play the two were acting last month to shoot a film.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter chairperson Anthony Kasunda called for the reporter’s immediate and unconditional release.
“We have leant of the arrest and at the moment we are gathering information,” he said.
“We condemn the continued detention of Chinoko and we call for his immediate release on bail,” media watchdog boss said.
“Let police hasten investigations into the allegations levelled against the scribe. We resist the temptation to think that the arrest has to do with gagging the media,” he added.
Lawyer Gondwe said his clients are “deeply devastated” with the article hence are seeking court redress on the matter.
On reports that the two were paid K10 000 each to stage a same sex engagement in order to test the waters of the country’s laws, following an announcement by President Joyce Banda to repeal -homosexuality laws, Gondwe denied his clients’ involvement