The Blantyre Magistrate court has ordered police to leave
the premises of Joy FM Radio, a privately owned radio station, and consequently allow the station to be back on air, according to a release from Misa.
The June 9 ruling comes
three weeks after police cordoned off the station claiming that the
radio station had aired campaign materials outside the official 60 days of campaign in the run up to the May 19 general elections. The station was technically closed on May 19 by the police who also arrested two radio presenters Aubrey Nazombe and Mary Chande-Mhone and a technician Abdul Razzak Telera in the wee hours of the Election Day on grounds that they aired a programme called ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Chilungamo ChilikutiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
In his ruling, principal resident magistrate Mzondi Mvula said the police justified their presence by claiming that they wanted to prevent people from tampering with a computer believed to have information on the alleged programme. The magistrate however described the action taken by the police as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œa gross violation of the rights of the employees.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Mvula has since ordered the police to leave the premises to pave the way for employees to go back to work. Meanwhile, the court has given the state mandate to confiscate the computer believed to have stored information on the programme and surrender it at the court for safety.
Late in the day on 9 June, Lloyd Zawanda who is Joy FMÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢sÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â head of news claimed that the police were dilly-dallying on the matter.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe shall be back on air once the police have left the premisesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
The also adjourned on the same day, a case in which the two radio presenters are accused of contravening section 115 of the Presidential and
Parliamentary Elections Act.
The section makes it an offence for any person to campaign or cause another to campaign within 48 hours before opening of the first day of
polling. If convicted the two face a fine of K5000 (US$36) and/or imprisonment for two years. The state has been ordered by the court to tender evidence on the two cases by June 24 this year.
Joy Radio is owned by former president Bakili Muluzi, who is also the national chairman of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party. He entered
into an electoral alliance with the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) two weeks before the polling day. The coalition however lost to incumbent president Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).