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Timothy Mtambo, others bail ruling today

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Chief Resident Magistrate, Violet Chipao, has reserved her ruling to today afternoon on the bail application of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders who are in police custody.

HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo, his deputy Gift Trapence and member MacDonald Sembereka are answering four counts of soliciting others to shut down all State residences contrary to section 124 of the Penal Code.

Their appearance before the court Wednesday attracted heavy presence of police officers who manned the premises while controlling the crowd that had gathered to follow the case.

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Nevertheless, the crowd that was detained outside the fence, cheered when the accused made their way to the court.

In the chamber, State prosecutor Nepier Chafikana indicated that they will be ready with the files for hearing in 15 days, as investigations that are underway would last for five days.

Lead counsel for HRDC, Khwima Mchizi, who was in company of Bright Theu, applied for bail on basis that it is a right of the accused.

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Chafikana, however, submitted to the court that there is likelihood that the accused will commit another offence.

“Soon after the arrest of Mtambo, the police gave him a chance to talk to his supporters, and in his address, he indicated that even while in custody, they will shut down the State houses,” he said He added that the objection is to protect witnesses from their influence whom he claimed the accused are familiar with.

Chafikana also said keeping them in custody will ensure the safety of the accused from the public. “Their acts are not pleasing some quarters of the people and they may take the law into their own hands, so it will be to their own advantage,” he said.

Mchizi brushed off the arguments and said police should not think on behalf of the supporters.

“This is a democratic country and the Constitution has set standards giving the police the mandate to protect its people. If the police know the quarter of the society which has evil plans against the accused, it is their duty to provide protection,” he said.

Immediately after the court had adjourned, Mtambo complained to his legal team about physical discomfort which purportedly emanated from the vehicle that had ferried him.

The development forced the team to demand a change of the vehicle and Mtambo warned against any evil plans against him. “If anything happens to my life, someone has to be responsible,” he said. Drama also ensued as HRDC members detained other police vehicles, demanding that all the accused should be ferried in one vehicle. This was after Sembereka was nowhere to be seen around the court premises.

Reports indicated that he had already been taken away in another vehicle. Sembereka and Trapence were arrested on Sunday while Mtambo handed himself to Lilongwe Police Station on Tuesday after the police had obtained a warrant of arrest over their planned demonstrations on March 25 2020.

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