Suspected governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets yesterday threatened to beat up journalists covering former minister George Chaponda’s bail hearing at Blantyre Magistrate’s Court.
The journalists—from print and electronic media—were covering proceedings in the bail hearing of embattled former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, who was arrested on Wednesday alongside Transglobe director Rashid Tayub and Grain Traders Association of Malawi chairperson Grace Mijiga Mhango.
As people filed out of the jam-packed court, some of the DPP cadets were overheard saying: “Mukujambula chani? Tiphwanya zimenezo. Ndiife omwe ajatu azikwanje aja. [Why are you taking pictures? We will break your cameras. We are the same panga-wielding guys].”
Chaponda eluded journalists after getting bail as he was whisked out of the courtroom using the entry restricted to magistrates.
Reacting to the DPP cadets’ threats, the party’s regional governor (South) Charles Mchacha distanced DPP from the unruly conduct, stating that he was not accompanied by any cadets to the court and that Chaponda’s case should not be associated with the party
He said: “I did not see anything of that nature at the court, probably because I used the back door. For your own information, I went to the court alone and I do not think there was anybody wearing a DPP cloth.
“What I saw there were people from Mulanje, including ward councillors and chiefs. Those must not be [associated with] DPP.”
Chaponda and Tayub walked out of the court relieved after spending Tuesday night at Blantyre Police Station.
The former minister is answering two counts of abuse of office and possession of foreign currency without lawful justification while Tayub was charged with influencing a public officer to misuse office. The two pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Before being taken to the court for the bail hearing and subsequent ruling, there were about four police officers at Blantyre Police Station gate who searched every car driving into the compound, a development that raised eyebrows as motorists drive in and out without being subjected to searches.
When The Nation crew got to the police station around 10 o’clock in the morning, there were no DPP party followers until 3.32pm when the suspects were taken to court. n