Malawians are demanding the release of social media activist Joshua Chisa Mbele amid revelations that he was arrested “on orders from above.”
Writer and Social media commentator Onjezani Kenani said he has spoken to Mbele and the activist said police officers received orders to arrest him.
Said Kenani in a Facebook post: “I have just spoken to my friend, Joshua Chisa Mbele. He is fine, at Lumbadzi Police Station. So far they have not charged him. The police say he was arrested “on orders from above”.”
Kenani also said that Mbele narrated to him the story of his arrest. According to Kenani, two Police trucks drove all the way to Salima to look for Mbele. At the time, Mbele was in Lilongwe and upon hearing that they were looking for him, he went to Salima to surrender himself to the police..
Meanwhile, Kenani has reminded the police of the need to take Mbele to court as per his rights.
“He has a team of lawyers representing him. #IstandwithJoshua . The little I know of what the law says is that anybody arrested needs to be taken to court to be charged within 48 hours. I have the clock in my hands,” said Kenani.
Other social media users are also calling on the police to release Mbele or at least ensure that he is taken to court so he can be formally charged and apply for bail.
“These “Orders from above”, should come with charges not just to detain to intimidate. If 48hours elapses, he should be released,” said one social media user.
Another wrote: “He must be taken to court and be charged by the end of business today. Yes he did a wrong thing but I know for sure some big heads don’t sleep because of people like Joshua Chisa Mbele he has nothing to lose and he fights for those who can’t criticize the government especially the poor. Mpaka two trucks haunting him really?”
“Let them not harm him. They are playing a psychological torture on him. They can’t and won’t break Joshua. Trueth will triumph. #istandwithJoshua,” said a social media user.
Malawi Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said Mbele was arrested for posting on Facebook information deemed defamatory. However, Kadadzera did not reveal the names of people who have complained about being defamed by Mbele.