By Staff Writer:
Hours after being granted bail, Social Media activist Joshua Chisa Mbele has said that he will not completely stop discussing issues of public interest on his Facebook page.
Mbele who was arrested on Tuesday is answering two counts of criminal libel contrary to section 200 of the penal code and publication of offensive communication contrary to section 87 of the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act.
He pleaded not guilty to both charges when he appeared before Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate Wanangwa Chirwa.
On Friday, SRM Nyirenda granted bail to Mbele on condition that he should refrain from expressing himself in any manner that promotes hate and materials that has potential to damage other people’s reputation.
SRM Nyirenda further ordered Mbele to pay a K20 000 cash bond, present two sureties both bonded at k300 000 non cash,
Commenting on the case, Mbele said although he will avoid commenting on personal issues, he will continue commenting on matters which are of public interest.
“Freedom of expressions is our birthright, is well entrenched in our Constitution, the Court understands it cannot easily limit a person to express himself especially on matters of public interest. So when it comes to matters of public interest I will continue commenting on them,” he said
On the arrest, Mbele said; “the document that has brought miserly upon me was shared by so many people unfortunately is only Joshua Mbele who has been arrested so, I don’t know. In the first place I shouldn’t have been here, because all in all my so called offence was not done out of malice.
“I was only commenting on matter which is of public interest and is already there in public, but, anyway the law has already taken its course, I have been released on bail I will see how the matter moves on from now onwards. All in all am relieved that I have been granted bail.”
Mbele was arrested following his Facebook post of a fake document with alleged names of top government officials implicated in Zuneth Sattar’s corruption case.
It is alleged that using his Facebook account, on January 10, 2022 Mbele posted that Malawi Defense Force (MDF) Commander Vincent Nundwe corruptly benefitted the sum of K4 billion from deals with Zunneth Sattar who is currently under investigation.
Meanwhile, Khonyongwa applied for the stay of proceedings saying that some two charges filed against Mbele violets his rights as far as section 5 of the constitution is concerned
He said he will make formal application on the matter.
SRM Chirwa has adjourned the matter to 9 February for hearing.
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been investigating allegations that Sattar and his agent Ashok Kumar Sreedharan aka Ashok Nair have been giving bribes to Politically Exposed Persons with the aim of influencing various Malawi Government Departments to corruptly award contracts to companies belonging to Sattar.
Ashok Nair who was arrested in connection with the investigations is currently remanded at Maula Prison after being denied bail.
ACB Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala said the investigations further established that Nair aided in procuring corrupt use of official powers contrary to section 35 as read together with section 25 (2) and section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act.
Further, the graft busting body obtained a warrant or arrest for Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Kezzie Msukwa but it was blocked before it was effected.
High Court Judge Zione Ntaba suspended the arrest and detention of Msukwa in relation to his alleged land deals on grounds that ACB violated his rights.
It is alleged that Msukwa benefited from illegal purchase of land by Sattar through Nair.
“The investigations have so far established that in relation to the mentioned land matters, Hon Kezzie Msukwa on four occasions corruptly used his official powers contrary to section 25 (1) as read together with section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act,” said Ndala
The ACB said Msukwa, in his capacity as Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, between July and August in Lilongwe, being concerned with a land dispute matter connected with his jurisdiction in Lilongwe’s Area 46 plot number 46/2057 between Sattar and local inhabitants, corruptly obtained an advantage in form of a Mercedes Benz C Class from Sattar for the advantage of a Moses Kafunda.
Msukwa is also alleged to have corruptly obtained from Sattar, through Jussab, the sum of K4 million to cool down the local inhabitants.
In the third count, Msukwa is alleged to have corruptly obtained from Sattar, through his agent Ashok Kumar Sreedharan, the sum of K15 million to buy land in Chipoka, Salima District.
In the fourth count, Msukwa is alleged to have corruptly obtained K4 million from Sattar to pay duty for the Mercedes Benz which Sattar bought for him.