Controversial People’s Land Organisation leader, Vincent Wandale, was Monday released on bail by the Zomba Magistrates’ Court following his arrest in October 2017 on allegations that he was obtaining money by false pretence.
Lawyer representing Wandale, Oscar Taulo, confirmed Wandale’s reprieve in an interview yesterday.
“However, the matter will still proceed in Lilongwe. It’s on him to decide where he goes. The case was in Zomba [yesterday] for convenience because the magistrate handling the matter was here, but the Lilongwe magistrate will set the date,” he said.
However, Taulo could not be drawn to comment on Wandale’s mental state after Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha ruled that he was not fit for trial and must be sent to Zomba Mental Hospital for treatment.
“We cannot comment now about that because the reports that have been given to the court are very confidential and touch on that issue. So we cannot comment on the medication issue. But I think when the case progresses to the next hearing, we can share those details,” he said.
However, a source close to the issue confided in us that Wandale is currently out of the hospital but, if need be, he will seek further help from a private clinic.
Taulo said, among other things, the bail conditions that Wandale has been given include reporting to the National Police Headquarters once every fortnight.
“He has been barred from making comments regarding his case; the court has also ordered that he should avail himself for trial when the dates are set,” he said.
Wandale, an interdicted civil servant, has been fighting for land rights for villagers of Mulanje and Thyolo districts. He has been accusing the government of failure to address the land challenges that people in the two tea growing districts face.
He was arrested in October last year, barely four days after his inauguration as leader of what he called the Traditionalist Republic of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje was postponed indefinitely due to heavy presence of police officers around the venue of the ceremony.