By Andrew Magombo
Lilongwe Magistrate Court has reserved its ruling on bail application by UTM senior member, Jessie Kabwila, who was detained last Saturday on counts of proposing violence to an assembly and uttering words which are prejudicial to the court ruling.
Magistrate Shyrine Chirwa adjourned the case to Tuesday morning, where a determination on the bail application will be delivered after going through submissions from the defence and the state.
The arrest came hot on the heels of Kabwila’s speech during the Nsundwe Rape Saga demonstrations organised by Human Rights Defenders Coalition on Thursday last week.
It is alleged that Kabwila made a provoking statement, categorically warning that ‘things will not go well in Malawi should the judges in the elections case give a childish judgement.’
Kabwila’s alleged statement comes at a time the country is awaiting court judgment on the presidential elections case in which United Transformation Movement (UTM)’s leader Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party’s Lazarous Chakwera are disputing the May 21, 2019 election results.
In the election, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) declared Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Arthur Peter Mutharika the winner.
Having pleaded not guilty to both counts, state prosecutors informed the court that investigations have been concluded and five witnesses are ready to parade.
However, lawyer for Kabwila, Khwima Mchizi moved in to seek adjournment because the state did not furnish full disclosure of the case.
He argued that judicial proceedings are supposed to be conducted on the principles of fair trial and not trial by ambush.
The state admitted to have served only 90 per cent of the disclosure but assured the court that should they proceed, they will momentarily leave out the untendered disclosures.
On bail application, the state insisted that the accused should remain in custody on grounds that she might be a menace to public order and that she might be the target, hence she must be under protective custody.
However, speaking on the sidelines of the court proceedings, counsel Mchizi claimed that the state was making excuses to keep his client in custody.
“We expected the state to mention specific threats she might be under. She was arrested two days after making her speech during which her life has not been under any threat and she has not been in hiding,” he said.
Kabwila’s remarks caused mixed reactions among members of the public in regard to the May 21 Presidential elections case which is awaiting ruling by the Constitutional Court.