Police in Malawi have picked up and charged with three counts Freelance Journalist Justice Mponda on allegations that he has been publishing stories that infringed the laws of the country. Surprisingly, Mponda has been driven to the capital Lilongwe, some 300 kilometres away from his base, Blantyre, where he was picked on the dawn of Monday October 15 2012,according to police, will be prosecuted. Deputy National Police spokesperson S/Superintendent Kelvin Maigwa confirmed with Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) that the accused is being kept at Lingadzi police in Lilongwe awaiting prosecution. Mponda, 27 was picked at his residence in Chiwembe, Blantyre and is been accused of filing in Malawi Voice, an online publication, stories that are deemed false, to have insulted the state president, and criminal libel in nature.
Some residents in Chiwembe township noted that armed police came on two Land cruisers during the arrest, and gadgets like computers and cameras were confiscated on the assumption that the devices were used to publish the stories in question. The stories in question are about Malawi president Joyce Banda resigning, where a fake Face book account purportedly created in the name of the president had a post that the president has failed to manage Malawi and was resigning. The other story alleged that the government of Malawi ordered the Tanzanian High Commissioner to leave the country following the interview he granted to ZBS on the issue of the Lake Malawi/Nyasa ownership. The government of Malawi however refuted all the stories. The young journalist is the first to face the wrath of the Joyce Banda administration. Meanwhile MISA-Malawi has asked the police to respect the constitutional requirement that a suspect be formally charged within 48 hours and not hold on to Mponda unnecessarily.
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