- Category: National News
- Published on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 08:52
- Written by Emmanuel Muwamba
Justice Mponda, an online reporter for Malawi Voice, has gone down in history as the first media practitioner to bear the brunt of the Joyce Banda administration.
He was arrested Monday morning for allegedly insulting the President.
According to Southern Region Police Headquarters public relations officer Nicholas Gondwa, Mponda has been charged with three counts of insulting the President, false publication and criminal libel.
Mponda was arrested at his home at Chiwembe Township in Blantyre at about 5am and transferred to the capital, Lilongwe, a distance of about 310km.
Malawi Voice on Monday claimed that six armed police officers invaded Mpondaâ€™s house and went away with three computers.
Police could, however, not deny or confirm the claim about the computers.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi and Misa Sadc chairperson Anthony Kasunda, who witnessed Mpondaâ€™s transfer to Lilongwe at Limbe Police Station, said the charges against Mponda relate to stories about President Bandaâ€™s alleged resignation and the Tanzanian High Commissioner, who was alleged to have been declared a persona non grata in Malawi.
Kasunda said Misa Malawi is not surprised with the arrest because â€œwe have not really appreciated the real change in the approach to [such] issues.â€
The Misa chair said the arrest reminds the media fraternity of the recent past when the media was under siege by many parties, notably the State.
Said Kasunda: â€œMisa Malawi has always said when somebody or an institution, including government, has been injured by the media and it feels so aggrieved, the best is to approach the Media Council of Malawi or indeed our organisation. We are not in any way saying journalists are immune to arrests, but at all costs that should be the last resort.
â€œWe are keenly following what is happening with Mponda. We are also worried about this thing of transporting suspects from Blantyre to Lilongwe. That is torture of some kind. Police confiscated computers in Blantyre, why then take him to Lilongwe? It baffles us.â€
He said Mponda looked in good spirits, though worried, because he did not even know that he was being transferred to Lilongwe.
â€œHe was just put in a police vehicle until I told him he will be at Lilongwe Police Station,â€ said Kasunda.