People’s Land Organisation (PLO) leader Vincent Wandale caused a stir at Blantyre Magistrate’s Court yesterday when he started ranting and questioned the legitimacy of the court in trying him and his members.
He also maintained that he and his members belong to a different country called United States of Thyolo and Mulanje.
Wandale and three others were arrested on April 21 this year and are answering a charge of obtaining money by false pretence after at least 54 villagers from Thyolo complained that they collected money amounting to K3.1 million from them, promising to give them land.
The four pleaded not guilty to the charge and are currently on remand at Chichiri Prison after the court denied them bail last week.
As hearing for the case continued, laughter broke out in the court when Wandale, instead of concentrating on cross-examining State witnesses, started quoting the Constitution, calling his trial foreign interference and shameful.
He said according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Malawi ratified in March 1994, government was committing treason by arresting him.
“This case is bogus and shameful; why not challenge us for creating our own State within Malawi? This court is illegitimate and, therefore, not capable of handling this issue because it is dealing with an international law. We have already summoned the International Court of Justice, seeking a redress in the matter,” he said.
Although the State through lawyer Frank Mbeta tried to caution Wandale to concentrate on the case, he continued rambling.
This forced principal resident magistrate Innocent Nebi to caution Wandale to concentrate on matters at hand.
“This court is a competent court with jurisdiction on those who commit offences inside Malawi. The accused has no legal basis to challenge or question the competence or powers of this court.
“As far as I am concerned, no notice has been issued to this court from government stating that Thyolo and Mulanje are a different State. This matter is put to rest and should the accused continue, the court will not take it lightly. Undermining the administration of the court or insulting the legality of the court is a serious case,” he warned.
Wandale then reapplied for bail, arguing the reasons for denying him bail last week do not hold water as those threatening his life should be the ones to be arrested.
He also told the court that he is sick and would like to go out look for herbal medicine which the State could not provide.
Nebi then adjourned the case to tomorrow.
In an interview after his arrest, Wandale said the money his organisation has been collecting from people was membership fee.
He accused Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa of mobilising the villagers to falsely accuse him.
However, Ngolongoliwa denied the allegation, saying he did not have a hand in Wandale’s arrest.