Malawi president’s aide too busy to appear before court

Joyce Banda’s presidential aid on special duties Reverend Malawi Mtonga who is one of people the prosecution set to testify against Journalist Justice Mponda, this week failed to avail himself at the Lilongwe Magistrates Court because he was busy with state function, Newstime Africa has learnt.

President Joyce Banda of Malawi

President Joyce Banda of Malawi

Malawi’s National police prosecutor, Mr. Happy Mkandawire told the Lilongwe Principal Residence Magistrate Court that he failed to get hold of some of the state witnesses and asked for a further adjournment of the case, a plea the defence counsel had some reservations with.

“The Reverend Malani Mtonga called me this morning that he would not make it due to State engagements while another witness, our IT expert, Mr. Jere is in Egypt,” the national prosecutor, who told the court before asking for an adjournment.

“We are sorry for the delays to conclude this case but bear with us because they are reasons beyond our control. We are very sorry for our friends who are coming all the way from Blantyre as we understand how costly this is,” he said.

Mponda’s lawyer, Chancy Gondwe said it was his hope that the State would sort out its” internal problems” in time so that the case is concluded soon.

“It’s very economically challenging to come all the way from Blantyre for the third time only to find out that the state has brought one witness,” the defence lawyer complained.

Principal Residence Magistrate Benjamin Chulu has ordered the state to speed up the trial by bringing evidence to conclude the case by February 8 this year as the court is expected to make its judgment on the matter that day.

Mponda is answering a charge of publishing false news likely to cause fear and alarm among people and on this day the state paraded police detective inspector Alfred Mitadyo Mphaka who testified that he was the police officer who was assigned to arrest the 27 year old Mponda.

The police detective indicated that he arrested Mponda following orders but that he did not know the charges levelled against Mponda, as his role was only to arrest the journalist.

Journalist Mponda was arrested at his Chiwembe residence in Blantyre on October 15 last year but was surprisingly transferred to the capital Lilongwe which is over 300 kilometres from Blantyre.

It is reported that armed police who stormed the journalist residence confiscated gadgets like computers and cameras on assumption that the devices were used to publish the stories in question.

After the journalist was arrested, Newstimeafrica was amongst the media and human rights organizations that condemned the arrest and called upon the Malawi government to release the journalist.

© 2013, Peter Chipanga. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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