Police arrest People’s Party members in Zomba

Malawi’s security forces arrested at least four opposition leaders Monday and detained a truck carrying over 120 People’s Party  (PP)members who were coming from a funeral in the eastern district of Zomba.

Stephen Mwenye, publicist of People’s Party led by State Vice President Joyce Banda, said the most prominent of those arrested were national director for youth Lawrence Mpofu, Peter Valani (PP executive members), Sungani and Basikolo.

Police arrested the officials for escorting the remains of their District Governor Chilewe after overcoming attempts by Member of Parliament  for Zomba Chisi ( the Jali area), Peter Mangulenje of ruling DPP,  to stop them from proceeding.

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Chilewe died after a long illness and he was being taken care by Vice President who had supported him to get treatment from Malosa hospital to Zomba referral and then moved him to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre where he died.

When members of the People’s Party arrived at the deceased home to pay their last respects, Mangulenje ordered that they should not be there in their party orange colours. But the bereaved family allowed PP members to pay their tributes to one of their members whom they also supported during his ailment.

After being dwarfed by hundreds of PP supporters, who dominated the funeral and other mourners who supported the PP officials, the parliamentarian dashed off in his car to report to Police that he was harassed.

PP officials, meanwhile, proceeded to give their members a decent burial.

But after the funeral, police mounted a road block and detained the truck carrying the opposition party members. They arrested the top four leaders.

Over 120 people kept chanting songs for their release at Zomba Police.

PP engaged lawyer Wapona Kita of Ralph and Arnold to handle the matter.

“I can confirm to have received instructions from the Right Honourable the Vice President Joyce Banda to represent the four People’s Party members who have been arrested by the Zomba Police in connection with an offence which we are yet to establish but it is in respect of a complaint lodged to the Zomba Police by Hon. Peter Mangulenje, a DPP MP,” Kita told Nyasa Times when contacted.

“The four led a delegation of about 120 People’s Party members who went to escort the remains of Mr Chilewe somewhere in Jali who until his death was PP’s District Governor for Zomba,” Kita added.

“The information we have is that PP’s members overcame Hon. Mangulenje who was trying to block their way to the funeral because, it being in his area, he wanted to take charge of it and not PP.”

The lawyer said he will seek Police bail on the opposition members since he cannot get court action following the industrial strike which has hit the judiciary over working conditions.

He also raised alarm that gathered information indicates “that the four will be taken to an unknown destination thereby making them out of touch with their relatives and lawyers. And with the court’s staff being on strike, the best we can do in the circumstances is to push for their release on police bail.”

Eastern Region Police Spokesperson Sergeant Thomeck Nyaude said the police were investigating the matter.

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