Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has filed its defence in the case in which former first lady Callista Mutharika has dragged it to court together with governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general Greselder Jeffrey Wa Jeffrey, demanding a K500 million compensation for defamation.
The public broadcaster MBC has been sued for allegedly broadcasting live the words that Jeffrey uttered against the former First Lady, alleging that she killed her husband, former president Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012.
MBC through its lawyer Chancy Gondwe has filed its defence asking court to dismiss the case, claiming it does not have any knowledge of a rally of DPP on June 2 2018 where they broadcast live the alleged words in respect of the claimant and asks Callista to provide proof.
“The second defendant never broadcast live any slandering of the claimant and the claimant is put to strict proof therefore… In the alternative, the second defendant pleads that if the pleaded slander was broadcast live by them, a fact which is denied; the same enjoys a qualified privilege and was a neutral reportage,” reads the defence in part.
Further, MBC pleads that, if defamatory words were broadcast, a fact which is denied, the said broadcast was innocent dissemination as the public broadcastee had no prior knowledge of what Jeffrey would utter and did also not have control as it was a live transmission.
A private practice lawyer Ambokire Salimu, who is representing Callista Mutharika, confirmed MBC wants the court to dismiss the matter, saying their defence is weak and will argue with them in court.
In making her suit, Callista Mutharika pleads that as a result of the defamation, her character has been vilified and has suffered and continues to suffer contempt and “odium as the alleged killer of her husband.”
In the lawsuit, Salimu pleads on behalf of Callista that Jeffrey’s utterances were the ultimatum epitomisation of slander as the words had no justification, were uttered against a former first lady, had a subject matter no lesser person than a person who was President of the country before he died and were uttered at the grandest of stages; a rally patronised by the sitting President who is brother to the claimant’s late husband.
“The claimant… pleads that the first defendant’s [Jeffrey] slander was brazen, atrocious and calculated to cause the ultimate humiliation of the claimant in the minds of the public,” reads part of the filed statement of case.
According to records, the late Bingu, the elder brother to the incumbent President, died from a heart attack after he collapsed in his office at State House in Lilongwe on April 5 2012.
Then 78 years old, Bingu was rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, but was reportedly pronounced dead on arrival before his body was swiftly airlifted to South Africa after which an official announcement about his death was made two days later.
The former first lady and her brother-in-law, President Peter Mutharika and other DPP members, have not been seeing eye to eye with each other since she publicly said the President was old and it was time he honourably left office for his deputy Saulos Chilima to lead the country beyond next year’s tripartite elections.
Jeffrey has not yet filed a defence.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :