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They want to kill me—Vincent Wandale

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Leader of People’s Land Organisation, Vincent Wandale, has accused government of plotting to kill him after the judge made a ruling Thursday that he is not fit to stand trial and ordered him to go to Zomba Mental Hospital for treatment

Senior Resident Magistrate, Paul Chiotcha, made the ruling after examining the medical report by a psychiatrist at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and hearing arguments from the State.

“The court finds the accused person not fit to stand trial. He must be taken to Zomba Mental Hospital for treatment. If he is not satisfied with the ruling, he can appeal at the High Court,” Chiotcha said.

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He said Wandale should be at the hospital for a month after which the matter will be back in court to determine what will happen next.

But soon after the ruling was made, Wandale told the police officers who were with him that he wanted to say something to the media.

Having been gran ted the permission, he read a prepared statement in which he expressed surprise at the request by the State and the decision by the court to take him to a mental facility, arguing that if he was really mad, a decision to take him to a mental hospital was to be made by his family.

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“I am surprised that they want to take me to Zomba Mental Hospital. Why are they concerned with my madness? It was supposed to be a decision by my family. What do they want to give me at that hospital? I suspect that they want to kill me,” he said before he was ordered to board a police vehicle which took him to Maula Prison.

Family members looked on in shock as the police vehicle left the court premises.

In his ruling, Chiotcha, said the medical report was very comprehensive. While stating that he will not make its contents public, he said he would only highlight issues that were related to the court proceedings.

Some of the things Chiotcha highlighted were that Wandale understood the charges and that he was prepared to contest them.

Chiotcha, however, revealed that Wandale started having abnormal beliefs about Malawi Government in 2008. He also said the medical examination revealed that Wandale had a psychotic episode in 1995, which went untreated.

He, however, made it clear that the decision to determine whether Wandale was fit to stand trial or not was with the court not medical professionals.

Although Wandale protested the decision,  Head of Prosecutions in the Malawi Police Service, Happy Mkandawire, said the State was just following the country’s laws.

“We arrested him for an offence. We had some doubts on his mental capacity, and we followed what the law says [in such cases],” Mkandawire said.

Wandale, an interdicted civil servant, has been fighting for native land rights for years and declared the independence of Mulanje and Thyolo over what he called government’s failure to address the land challenges that people in the two tea growing districts are facing.

He was arrested late last month barely four days after his inauguration as leader of what he calls the African Traditionalist Republic of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje was postponed indefinitely due to the heavy presence of police officers around where the ceremony was expected to take place.

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