LILONGWE—Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader John Tembo’s aide and driver were Tuesday found guilty of assaulting lawmaker Titus Malipa and damaging the vehicle of Abele Kayembe, another lawmaker.
Portipher Chidaya, who is MCP’s Administrative Secretary, and William Phakamisa, Tembo’s longtime driver were convicted alongside Patrick Moyo, Grace Masamba and Polipher Kachitsa.
The court heard that arrests were made July 1, 2009 after a brawl at MCP headquarters during a demonstration organised by members calling for Tembo’s resignation. This incident happened after MCP, the country’s oldest party, was embarrassingly thumped by the Democratic Progressive Party in the general elections.
Malipa and Kayembe were among the younger MCP members who said time had come for Tembo to let younger members lead the party, a move Chidaya and company disagreed with.
First Grade Magistrate Cecilia Onsewa found the accused guilty, saying there was overwhelming evidence against them. But Lucy Kalebe was saved by her alibi that she was nowhere near MCP headquarters when the incident took place. The state believed her.
Asking for stiffer punishment to act as a deterrent against future offenders, prosecutor Prescott Mwayiulipo said there had to be zero-tolerance for political violence.
In mitigation, lawyer Gift Nankhuni asked for lenience for his defendants, saying they didn’t have any criminal record before this case. Nankhuni doubted his clients would find employment after the court’s decision and asked the court to consider that as well.
Ruling is set for Friday.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.