A Malawian investigative reporter has been acquitted of the charge of giving false information to a public servant when he allegedly claimed to be related to a jailed former cabinet minister in order to see him, writes Sam Makaka.
The Lilongwe Magistrate Court said it could not convict Maxwell NgÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ambi, of the Nation group, because the state did not have enough evidence.
NgÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ambi was arrested early this year in May at Maula Prison where he was found speaking to Sam Mpasu, former Education Minister, convicted of corrupt practices when he procured school notebooks abroad which could be sourced locally.
Maula Prison warders alleged that NgÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ambi lied to them when he said he was a relative of Mpasu and had come to visit him when actually he was planning to interview the former minister.
In his defence, NgÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ambi said the warders did not ask him whether he was related to Mpasu or not when he told them he had come to visit him.
In an interview with journalism.co.za, Innocent Chitosi, the national director of the National Media Institute of Malawi (Namisa), said the Malawi judiciary has always been independent as far as the media is concerned.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe courts in Malawi have never disappointed the media, they have displayed a high level of independence more so in cases involving the media as it is common practice that most authorities try to intimidate the press,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
Chitosi said it is important to realize that journalists have a duty to speak for the voiceless, including prisoners who might have stories to tell but have no opportunity because they are locked up.