Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo spent a night at Lilongwe Police Station after handing himself in to the police following a warrant of arrest on his head.
Two other activists McDonald Sembereka and Gift Trapence were arrested on Sunday, but Mtambo was in hiding until he surrendered himself yesterday noon.
There were running battles at the station that forced law enforcers to use tear gas to disperse Mtambo’s sympathisers who escorted him from Old Town mosque.
By the time we went to press, the police had not yet recorded Mtambo’s caution statement, but Lilongwe Police Station officer-in-charge Denis Katuya said the HRDC leader will know the charges levelled against him within 48 hours.
He said: “We have already witnessed that he handed himself in. As of now, we haven’t taken a statement yet, a statement will be taken later. He will definitely spend the night here as long as we are within the 48-hour rule, and we will take him to court within the same 48 hours.”
In an interview after Mtambo was locked in, his lawyer Khwima Mchizi told the media that his client is a law-abiding citizen; hence, his move to hand himself in to police.
He said: “We will let the law take its cause. He is a law-abiding citizen and will act as such. The police haven’t recorded his statement yet, but when they do, I will let you know.
“We have taken a stay order from court and not a bail for Mtambo because we don’t want the same scenario that happened with Trapence and Sembereka to resurface. When Gift and Sembereka were picked by Lilongwe Police, we were surprised that they were transferred to Blantyre over a matter that happened in Lilongwe, so, we don’t want Mtambo to face the same.”
During the fracas at the station, The Nation spotted one police officer, who sustained an injury on the head, with blood covering his uniform.
Speaking to journalists before being locked in, Mtambo said the tears shed because of the fight for justice are seeds that will liberate the country from impunity and lawlessness.
He said he handed himself in as a law-abiding citizen and they will not relent on their plans to seal all State residences on March 25 if Present Peter Mutharika does not assent to the Electoral Reforms Bills.
Mtambo said: “These tears we are crying now are tears that will water the small tree of Malawi that is going to grow. It has been said that the darkest hour of the night [comes before] dawn. We know that God has answered us, anybody that is fighting the will of people and that of God will fail miserably.”
He further said he was shocked that police had to resort to using tear gas on peaceful sympathisers who escorted him, promising that his fight for justice will not end there.
Mtambo added: “The weapons that they are using are from our taxes because we are fighting a justice path, we will not surrender, we will be going to State House on the 25th not to do anything illegal, but to get the attention of our President because he is the Head of State; he needs to address our needs.”
Earlier yesterday, the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court failed to start a hearing of the case involving Trapence and Sembereka following an order by the High Court to transfer the two to Lilongwe.