Two women from the southern Malawi district of Mwanza are claiming police arrested them last week for insulting President Joyce Banda and her ruling Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) after they refused to receive PP cloth and dance for the President.
The two claim they refused to join fellow women in dancing practices for the Presidentâ€™s visit to the area last week.
The suspects, identified as 26-year-old Eliza Kusheni and Dorothy Ngâ€™onga, 24, were released on bail on Monday by the Mwanza Magistrateâ€™s Court after spending almost five days in police custody.
Mwanza Police station officer-in-charge Ellobiam Banda confirmed the arrest of the two, but disputed the arrest was in connection with any insults against the President. He said the arrest followed a disagreement among women in the area.
Said Banda: â€œThe two women have been charged with use of insulting language. It is alleged that they insulted one Martha Mazinzi after a dispute which was just out of petty jealousy.â€
He said after the arrest on Thursday, the two suspects were granted bail on Monday because police were busy with the Presidentâ€™s visit on Friday.
But the policeâ€™s account differs from that of the suspects as well as one by former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) official in the area.
Ngâ€™onga claimed in a telephone interview with The Nation that she and her colleague were equally surprised at their arrest because on the particular day, they did not insult anyone, including the mentioned women.
Said the suspect: â€œOn that day, we were coming from Mwanza Prison and met six women, one of them was putting on a PP cloth and I commented that the cloth was good.â€
Ngâ€™onga said after noticing that things were getting out of hand she and her colleague fled from the place and took refuge in a shop where they both work.
She said it was later that police came to their workplace to arrest them without proper explanation.
The two were given bail without paying any bond and the court ruled that they should be reporting to the police station every Monday.
The bail documents show that the two were charged with use of insulting language contrary to Section 182 of the Penal Code.
DPP Mwanza Central Constituency official Bright Kachingwe said the party was worried about the arrests.