Thursday, 8 August 2013
State prosecutor, Cecelia Zangazanga, has applied for a change of magistrate in a case in which the National Assembly chief security officer, Youngson Chilinda, is accused of assaulting photojournalist Thoko Chikondi.
Speaking to the Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) earlier this week, Zangazanga confirmed the development, saying the State had asked the Chief Magistrate’s court to change presiding magistrate, Ernest Kumwembe.
Zangazanga could not elaborate on the exact reasons why the State was taking this route. However, MISA understands that the prosecution team is unhappy with Kumwembe’s conduct on the case so far.
Up until now, the State has paraded two witnesses, Thoko Chikondi and Sergeant Jacqueline Chikupa. No new date has been set for the case until the Chief Magistrate, Ruth Chinangwa, rules on the application to have magistrate Kumwembe changed.
Chilinda, who is currently out on bail, is accused of punching Chikondi several times on 30 May 2013 at parliament building in the capital city, Lilongwe. Chikondi was going about her duties, photographing a consumer rights activist who had just presented a petition to the national assembly.
However, Chilinda accused Chikondi of taking pictures without permission and proceeded to assault her as he attempted to grab the photojournalist’s camera. Chikondi sustained bruises as a result of the assault and was treated at Kamuzu Central Hospital.
Levi Kabwato, MISA Programme Specialist for Media Freedom Monitoring & Research