The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court has ordered that Vincent Wandale, the self-styled supreme leader of the so-called United States of Thyolo and Mulanje (Must), should undergo a mental examination to determine if he is fit to stand trial.
Wandale, who leads the People’s Land Organisation (PLO), faces the charge of publication of false statements likely to cause fear and alarm to the public.
He has been claiming that he is the leader of a country called the United States of Mulanje and Thyolo and has mobilised some people in his quest to separate the two districts from Malawi.
Wandale, who works as a chief land officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, was arrested on Sunday after President Peter Mutharika declared that he would come down on him like ‘a tonne of bricks’ if he continued to proclaim himself as leading the two districts as an independent State from Malawi.
Malawi Police Service head of prosecutions Happy Mkandawire said Wandale appeared before court yesterday where the State applied to the court to allow for him to be assessed before commencement of trial.
Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code outlines the process under which an accused person can be declared mentally incapacitated to stand trial among them that a report be submitted to the court within one month.
“The prosecution applied to the court that there is need for a psychiatric examination to be sure what state of mind he is in to be able to enter plea and defend himself,” Mkandawire said.
Lilongwe senior resident magistrate Paul Chiotcha has since issued an order to the Ministry of Health to refer Wandale to a doctor to examine him, possibly at Bwaila Hospital.
“After the whole process, a report will be furnished to the court and the court will be briefed on the findings of the examination. If found to be sane, the accused person will be prosecuted, if he is of unsound mind, he will be acquitted,” Mkandawire said.
Wandale leads a movement called PLO which has mobilised people in Thyolo and Mulanje, demanding a share of the land from tea estate owners.
However, his mobilisation took a different turn when he declared the two districts independent from Malawi and appointed a Cabinet last week.
The case has since been adjourned to 11 November, 2017.