It was a day of mixed fortunes for politician Bon Kalindo on Monday as no sooner had the court granted him bail on the charge of publishing a false statement contrary to Section 60 (1) of the Penal Code than he found himself in handcuffs again.
Kalindo was arrested on Friday on allegations that he told protesters in Mangochi on Thursday that former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Clement Chiwaya did not shoot himself, but was murdered at Parliament Building in Lilongwe.
During court proceedings in a fully-packed courtroom in Zomba on Monday, the former Mulanje South parliamentarian looked calm and pleaded not guilty to the charge. This prompted State prosecutor LevisonMangani to tell the court that it will parade at least four witnesses to testify in the case.
“Witnesses are not ready. The hearing needs to be adjourned,” he said.
In reaction, defence lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa asked the court to grant Kalindo bail, citing that he is not a flight risk as he is a businessperson who trades in vehicles, works in entertainment industry and is afamily man with a wife and three children.
In objection, Mangani said Kalindo should not be granted bail as there are possibilities that he may commit similar offences as he still has the right to assembly and demonstrations.
But in his ruling, Zomba chief resident magistrate Austin Banda on Monday said that bail is a constitutional right in interest of justice.
Therefore, he ordered Kalindo to pay a cash bond of K200 000 and a non-cash surety of K500 000, to surrender his passport to police and report to Lilongwe Police Station every fortnight.
He is expected to appear in court on January 20 2022 to start answering the charges.
Meanwhile, some civil society organisations (CSOs) have condemned Kalindo’s re-arrest.
The CSOs are Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives, Social Revolution Movement, Human Rights Ambassadors, Forum for Democracy and Rights Defenders, Mzuzu Youth Caucus and Centre for Children Affairs Malawi.
When contacted, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he was waiting from his superiors to inform him the charges for which Kalindo is arrested.
Government spokesperson Gospel Kazako, who is also Minister of Information, refused to comment on the CSOs statement, referring The Nation to Ministry of Justice.
But the ministry’s spokesperson PiliraniMasanjala said the issue was being handled by police.