The Blantyre Senior Resident Magistrate’s Court has reserved its ruling to Wednesday on whether to release on bail seven men who were arrested in connection with a fracas in Ndirande that involved stoning President Peter Mutharika’s convoy last week.
The seven, Maloya Gulani, Jonathan William, McCloud Mulima, John Meleka, Daniel Kaole, Precious Zulu and Joseph Matchado, through their lawyer Wester Kosamu, applied for bail after pleading not guilty to four counts levelled against them.
Out of the four counts, three are of malicious damage of vehicles belonging to Godai Banda, Noel Maganga and Clement Bito while the forth is of unlawfully wounding of Bito.
However, the police avoided mentioning Mutharika’s stoning in the charge sheet throughout the four counts.
Kosamu said the suspects have to be released on bail as most of them feed their families on a hand-to-mouth basis.
“These are all citizens of Malawi living and doing their businesses in Ndirande and they cannot jump bail. They have been in custody from May and in these hard economic times, it is important that they are released on bail for them to support their families,” he said.
Kosamu also reminded the court that every accused person is entitled to the right to bail and that the government is in the process of decongesting the country’s prisons as part of the fight against Covid-19.
The state, which is being represented by Southern Region State Prosecutor Bright Sanudi, objected to the application, saying the seven are answering very serious offences and are likely to interfere with investigations.
President Peter Mutharika’s convoy was stoned on Thursday afternoon as he paraded through Ndirande Township to showcase his running mate Atupele Muluzi after presenting his nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec).
Political expert George Phiri of University of Livingstonia said although it is important for the police to arrest any suspected lawbreakers, they should be seen not to be partisan in their work.
He reminded the law enforcers that there are outstanding cases such as the torching of a house in Lilongwe where two people died, the alleged rape of women at Msundwe, the torching of a UTM vehicle and the damage of Mec and National Registration Bureau property that need to be resolved.