2004 Documented Cases – Malawi

MAY 23, 2004
Updated: August 3, 2004

Evans Masamba, MIJ 90.3
Arthur Chokotho, MIJ 90.3
Wonder Msiska, MIJ 90.3
Tony Khoza, MIJ 90.3

MIJ 90.3

Three days after contested presidential elections in Malawi, armed police moved into the community radio station MIJ 90.3 in the commercial capital of Blantyre at around 12 p.m. after host Chokotho conducted a live telephone interview with opposition spokeswoman Kholiwe Mkandawire, who said the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party had stolen the elections and threatened opposition action if the UDF candidate was declared president.

Station Manager Masamba told CPJ that he eventually cut off the interview, but that police raided the station's offices even after the broadcast was halted. Officers arrested Chokotho and Masamba, as well as reporters Msiska and Khoza, who were also there. The officers closed the station's offices, as well as those of the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ), which is housed in the same building and oversees the station's operations.

MIJ 90.3 was charged with broadcasting news "likely to cause a breach of the peace," according to a CPJ source.

Msiska and Khoza were released without charge that evening. Authorities held Masamba and Chokotho overnight and ordered them to report to the police on Monday, May 31. Afterward, the police ordered Masamba and Chokotho to report to them once a week, but no charges were filed against the journalists.

The station remained closed for a week until the Blantyre High Court issued an order to allow it to reopen. The Malawi Institute of Journalism later filed a suit against the government for the closure of the station and their own premises, citing incurred loss of income stemming from the closure.

OCTOBER 7, 2004
Posted: October 22, 2004

Pilirani Semu Banda, The Nation

Emmanuel Muwamba, The Nation

Police harassed Banda, a senior reporter for the independent daily The Nation, and Muwamba, a photographer for the newspaper, when the journalists tried to cover a dispute between a tea estate's management and recently fired farm workers.

According to local sources, police prevented Banda and Muwamba from attending negotiations between workers and management. Later, when Muwamba took pictures of workers setting fire to tea plants after the talks fell through, several police officers attacked him with rifle butts and tried to take away his camera, local sources said.

Banda told the Media Institute of Southern Africa that police insulted her and prevented her from intervening on Muwamba's behalf.

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