Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) vice-chairperson Gift Trapence and Central Region chairperson Reverend Macdonald Sembereka yesterday spent another night in police custody following their arrests on Sunday.
In a written response yesterday evening, HRDC spokesperson Luke Tembo said the two have since been charged.
As of yesterday evening, Trapence was still at Blantyre Police Station while Sembereka was at Ndirande Police Station, where they were transferred to on Sunday soon after their arrest in Lilongwe.
But Tembo yesterday could not clearly indicate when the two would be taken to court for bail, but said their lawyers were working on it.
He said: “They are still in custody, but what we know right now is that they have been formally charged and have been questioned by the police. But we are not sure if they will be taken to court tomorrow [today] or not.”
However, a source close to the investigations said the two will likely appear in court today for bail application.
The source indicated that the two were being questioned at the separate stations throughout the day yesterday, a development that led them to fail to make a bail application.
According to the charge sheet The Nation has seen, police accuse the two of inciting another to contravene the law, which is contrary to Section 124 (1)(b) of the Penal Code.
The charges follow a press briefing the HRDC leadership held in Lilongwe on Friday where they called upon the public to join them in sealing State Residences on March 25.
The arrest of the two came barely hours after President Peter Mutharika, in his address at a rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre on Sunday, warned the HRDC leadership against their intentions to seal State Residences.
He ordered the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and Malawi Police Service (MPS) to use all the necessary force to stop them.
In a separate interview earlier yesterday, HRDC executive member Billy Mayaya said they will not relent in pushing for the release of the two, describing the arrests as unlawful.
“While our colleagues are in custody, we will not stop demanding that they be released from custody, we will keep pushing,” he said.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said police obtained a warrant of arrest for the two following the press conference where they violated some provisions.
During his address on Sunday at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) joint rally, Mutharika said HRDC members must stop piling pressure on government through holding demonstrations.
He said: “[Acting] Inspector General of Police and Army Commander, on March 25, if they [HRDC] come to State House, they will use every force to let you out.
“[Timothy] Mtambo cannot be bigger than government. Nobody in this country is above the law. This is the last time. I will never allow you to do this again. Your time is up, the party is over. Wake up and smell the coffee.”
HRDC leadership said it would seal State Residences as a way of forcing Mutharika to assent to Electoral Bills recently passed in Parliament.
HRDC also wants Mutharika to fire the current crop of MEC) commissioners and appoint a new commission. On February 3, the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court in Lilongwe annulled the May 21 presidential election, saying they were marred by a plethora of irregularities.