Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate, Shyreen Chirwa, has granted bail to outspoken politician and rights activist, Dr. Jessie Kabwila, after she spent three nights in police custody.
Dr. Kabwila was arrested on Saturday in Lilongwe at Area 10 where she was attending a birthday party.
Magistrate Chirwa has ordered Dr. Kabwila to pay a cash bail bond of K20,000.00 and submit two sureties each attached to a non-cash bond of K200,000.00.
Dr. Kabwila will need to report to central region police on Tuesdays every fortnight and notify the police each time she plans traveling out of Lilongwe city.
Magistrate Chirwa has since set February 4th 2020 as the date when trial will start for Dr. Kabwila who has been charged on two counts of proposing violence at an assembly contrary to section 87 (1) (a) of the Penal Code and uttering words to the prejudice of judicial proceedings, contrary to section 133 (1) (d) of the Penal Code.
The first count of the charges reads: “Jessie Kabwela on the 9 January 2020, at area 10 Junction in the city of Lilongwe without lawful excuse at an assembly of more than 3 people made a statement calculated or likely to incite violence or induce the persons so assembled to do physical harm to persons or damage property by urging the gathering to deal with persons supporting the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission, Justice Dr. Jane Ansah not to step down from her post.”
The second count reads: “Jessie Kabwila at the same time and place as stated in the first count while dispersing demonstrators made a speech to the demonstrators prejudice of the pending judicial proceedings in the Constitutional Court case involving the 21 May, 2019 presidential elections by threatening that things would not go well in Malawi should the judges deliver a childish judgement on the matter.
Dr. Kabwila, has pleaded not guilty to both charges. The state has indicated that it will parade five witnesses to testify.
However, trial on the case failed to start on Monday as the state had not yet submitted full disclosures to defense lawyers. The state indicated that it would require 5 days file the disclosures with the defence.Earlier on her arrival, UTM supporters thronged the precincts of the Lilongwe Magistrate's Court chanting "ife sitilola, a Jessie atuluke" (free Jessie, we wont bag anything less than that).
UTM and the Malawi Congress Party presidential candidates in the 2019 election are in the Constitutional Court demanding the nullification of MEC results in the race on the basis that the process was mismanaged citing alleged irregularities.
The MEC declared President Peter Mutharika as victor in the said election.