MCP’s Chidaya, Phakamisa convicted for political violence

Lilongwe Magistrate Court has found guilty opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader John Tembo’s aide Portipher Chidaya, and his bodyguard-cum-driver William Phakamisa for assaulting Lilongwe North MP Titus Malipa on July 1 2009 at MCP headquarters in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.

The court also found guilty Patrick Moyo, Grace Masamba and Potipher Kachitsa on charges of unlawful wounding and malicious damage.

First Grade Magistrate Cecilia Onsewa said she has convicted them after prosecution led by prosecutor Prescott Mwayiulipo, successfully proved their case “with overwhelming evidence” against them.

The MCP officials were accused of assaulting Malipa who was accused of siding with leadership change activist and also damaging the vehicle of Dowa West MP Abele Kayembe, BP1310 whose windscreen was smashed.

Chidaya: Guilty and convicted

The political violence is said to have taken place when Malipa and Kayembe had mobilised supporters to hold a demonstration calling for Tembo’s ouster as the leader.

The court however, acquitted another accused Lucy Kalebe from the case because there was no evidence to showing she was near MCP headquarters during the incident.

The convicts- including Chidaya who is MCP’s Administrative Secretary- were represented by lawyer Gift Nankhuni.

In addressing the court for mitigation, Nakhuni asked for leniency because the MCP officials have no criminal record before the case.

“The offences my clients committed have no fixed punishment. I would like to move the court to consider giving them a suspended sentence.,” he pleaded.

“These people are politicians. The conviction itself is a punishment. They will not vie for any position in the next seven years and possibly no chance of employment,” Nankhuni said.

But the prosecutor called for stiffer punishment “to deter other politicians from violence.”

Sentencing for the convicts will be made on Friday.

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