There was chanting and jubilation at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court after United Transformation Movement (UTM) supporter, Manes Winnie Hale, was granted bail yesterday afternoon.
Scores of UTM supporters, led by secretary general Patricia Kaliati and spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga, converged at the court for a bail application.
The moment principal resident magistrate Viva Nyimba read out his ruling of “bail granted”, the supporters started chanting songs associated with the movement.
In his ruling, Nyimba stated: “The matter may have some political overtones but the court will decide according to law and submissions made. The accused’s case provides punishment of 1 000 pounds or two years imprisonment. This means the case is a misdemeanor not a felony.”
The magistrate argued that there is not enough evidence that the accused may interfere with police investigations, as earlier argued by the State.
Among her bail conditions, Hale, originally from Malawi but a naturalised United States citizen, paid a bond of K100 000, two sureties with a bond of K50 000 each and submitted all travel documents to police.
“In the event that the trial takes long, the accused may apply to vary some conditions. The accused is required to report to National Police, every Friday, fortnightly,” said the magistrate.
Before the ruling, the State, through police prosecutor senior superintendent Moja Phiri, quashed the bail application, arguing that they needed more time for investigations.
Hale’s lawyer Chikosa Silungwe had argued that she was arrested without a warrant, but Moja disputed the claim.
Originally from Kambuku Village, Traditional Authority Kwataine in Ntcheu, Hale is scheduled to appear in again court on September 6.