MalawiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s police in the capital, Lilongwe arrested Gabriel Kamlomo,
editor for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), a privately owned radio
station, for allegedly broadcasting false information, according to an alert from Misa..
Kamlomo is accused of misleading a police officer and causing public alarm by broadcasting, what the police say is an alleged false murder case.
According to information gathered from the police and management of the radio station, Kamlomo was arrested following a news article broadcast by the station on Friday, July 3, 2009 in which two unidentified women said they had been hired to prepare a mutilated body with missing body parts in Lilongwe. The story did not state whether the women worked for the police, a funeral home or hospital.
MISA-Malawi is told that that the story surfaced in December 2008 and for several months the station has been trying to get the side of the police on the issue to no avail. Kamlomo however managed to interview the central region Police Public Relations Officer, John Namalenga who claimed that they had investigated the issue and concluded that it was a false story. The station nevertheless went on to report the story while giving the side of the police.
Apart from allegations of broadcasting a false story ZodiakÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s station manager Mathias Manyeka told MISA-Malawi that the police also accuse Kamlomo of attacking the police insinuating that they [police] were not interested in investigating the murder case.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œZBS has been investigating the story since December last year. We allowed Gabriel to air the story on July 3, following reluctance by the police to investigate the incident,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Manyeka.
When contacted for comment, Namalenga claimed that Kamlomo broadcast despite being warned that the story was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“falseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe police told Kamlomo that the information he had about the alleged dead body without some body parts missing was false. We even advised him not to air the story because police investigations revealed that the information he had was not true,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
According to Namalenga, Kamlomo was picked by the police for questioning on grounds that he gave false information to a police officer. The police have even accused Kamlomo of causing public alarm by airing the story.
Meanwhile, MISA-Malawi has condemned KamlomoÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s arrest. In a statement signed by its Chairperson, Brian Ligomeka, MISA-Malawi described the action taken by the police as strange and at the same time an infringement on media freedoms.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe police have often been calling for tip-offs from the general public to help them in fighting and combating crime. If they are arresting journalists who are supposed to be public watchdogs, how do they expect whistleblowers to be providing them with information?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â, reads part of the statement.