Twelve Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) students yesterday pleaded not guilty to holding protests over a school fees hike. They were later given court bail.
According to Luanar vice-chancellor Kanyama Phiri, Luanar management pleaded with the Malawi Police Service to release the students.
The 12 were arrested on Monday along Mitundu Road where they allegedly burnt tyres and blocked the road.
They were charged with intentionally endangering the safety of persons travelling on the road contrary to Section 237 of the Penal Code.
Five members of the community were tried separately in the morning and were also released on bail.
Two other students, who were arrested on Tuesday at Luanar City Campus, were unconditionally released on Wednesday. They did not appear before court.
Lawyer representing the 12, Khwima Mchizi of Clarkes Attorneys, argued before senior resident magistrate Shyreen Chirwa that the students deserved to be given bail in line with constitutional provisions.
Chirwa granted bail to the 12 on condition that each should produce one K10 000 surity and a non-cash bond of K200 000, and that they should report to police fortnightly.
Commenting on the next move the college will take against the students, Kanyama Phiri said their release will bring sanity to the three campuses since their fellow students threatened to hold mass protests if they were not released by close of business yesterday.
However, while the 12 were in police custody, their colleagues were sitting end-of-semester exams, a development that will force management to administer to them deferred examinations, according to Kanyama Phiri.
Students Union president Timothy Grant bemoaned the arrest of their colleagues, saying that it disturbed classes.
However, he commended management for facilitating their release, saying that will bring peace to the three campuses.
“This disturbed us as we did not have classes while our colleagues were in custody. However, we will keep pushing so that management’s decision on fees hike should be reasonable,” Grant said.