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Vincent Wandale back in court

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The High Court in Blantyre, Tuesday, heard the appeal case involving Vincent Wandale, the self-acclaimed leader of People’s Land Organisation (PLO)—a grouping of people from Thyolo and Mulanje, who are agitating to “reclaim” land owned by estate owners.

Wandale was on November 3 last year, convicted of conspiracy to commit misdemeanour, criminal trespass and unauthorised use of land.

Wandale allegedly organised people of Thyolo District to share land belonging to Conforzi Estate.

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Lawyer representing Wandale, Michael Goba Chipeta, said in the court that the Magistrate’s Court committed grave errors which caused miscarriage of justice in the case.

He said the court convicted Wandale of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour, although the evidence which was tendered in court did not prove any misdemeanour in the particulars of the offence.

Chipeta also said it was erroneous for the lower court to convict Wandale of unauthorised use of land saying the people did not occupy the land but only showed intent.

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“The people’s aim was to occupy the land but they did not. In fact their plans were foiled within five hours when the police came,” he said.

Chipeta added that the offence of criminal trespass was brought as an alternative charge.

He, therefore, argued that the court was not supposed to convict Wandale of the offence, having already convicted him of the main charge of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour.

State Advocate, Collin Chitsime, conceded that the conviction and sentencing of criminal trespass should be quashed but he maintained that the other two convictions and sentencing should stand.

After hearing from both sides, presiding Judge, Justice Sylvester Kalembera has set April 28 to deliver his ruling.

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