Civil society leaders Charles Kajoloweka, Gift Trapence and Moses Mkandawire and lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa have said they are living in fear following death threats they are getting for taking the maize scam to court.
Kajoloweka as an individual, Youth and Society Organisation which he leads, Church and Society Programme of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia which is headed by Mkandawire and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) of Trapence obtained an injunction last week through Mwafulirwa restraining Agriculture Minister George Chaponda from executing his duties until a probe into the matter is concluded.
But since Sunday evening, Kajoloweka and Mwafulirwa have been getting text messages, warning them to drop the case or be ready to be roughed up.
First to get the texts was Mwafulirwa, who told The Nation yesterday that the unknown person first tried to call him, before sending him the threat.
He said: “They flashed me, then later on called, but when I answered, they did not say anything. Later on, they sent me a message.
“I reported the matter to the Malawi Law Society (MLS) and I will be going to the police in Mzuzu today [yesterday] to report,” he said.
In their message, the alleged assailants told Mwafulirwa to make sure that the case is dropped. Read part of the message:
“Mukuvutisaboma ndinueti….Upeza mtendere ukathetsa mlandu. Apo ayi makofi afuta court [So you are the ones troubling government. You will find peace when you drop the case, if not you will be beaten up after leaving the court premises].”
The message also warns Mkandawire that the ones behind this “action” are from Lilongwe, and not from Mzuzu.
On the other hand, Kajoloweka is warned that the assailants have known where he lives, and that they will deal with him.
Reads part of the messages from number 0886029732: “Ndakupeza mphwanga, nyumba yakonso tayipeza. Mawa siugona tionana kukhoti [We have known where you stay, after court you will not sleep home].”
Kajoloweka and Mkandawire reported the matter to Mzuzu Police immediately after inter-partes hearing at High Court yesterday.
Speaking on the threats, Mkandawire, who boasted of being in the civil society for 22 years, said they will not be intimidated by such threats.
“You know how we fought the third term bid, and you remember that in 2008, over 300 people surrounded my house because of my work. So, we will not relent. We will continue talking, and legally dealing with all corrupt leaders.
“People must know that we are not against Chaponda. We just want him to pave the way for investigations. It is so pathetic that we are moving backwards instead of moving forward on development. Politics must not be taken as a tool for self-enrichment,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, Trapence said the threats are unfortunate, especially in a democratic dispensation where freedom of expression and dissenting views form part of democracy.
He said: “We at Cedep know the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] does not like criticism. We still remember how the DPP youth cadets were all over town brandishing machetes in town. Indeed, memories are still very fresh in our minds when after the mayoral elections a couple of weeks ago the winning candidates in Lilongwe and a member of Parliament in Mzuzu had to go into hiding after allegedly being threatened by DPP youth cadets for the simple reason that they do not belong to the ruling party.”
Meanwhile, MLS honorary secretary Khumbo Soko has condemned the attacks, describing them as outrageous.
“Mr Mwafulirwa, a lawyer in good standing with the Malawi Law Society, has reported to us that he is receiving threats in respect of the work that he is doing on behalf of his clients in the Chaponda case. Naturally, we find this outrageous.
Meanwhile, government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, who is also Minister of Information and Communications Technology, refused to say anything on the matter, especially on leadership at the Agriculture Ministry.
He said: “Since the matter is still in court, I have no comment.” n