Malawi: Malawian journalist arrested on mistaken identity

By Emmanuel Muwamba – Police in Malawi have disclosed that a reporter they arrested on allegations of causing breach of peace to a Member of Parliament (MP) family was a case of mistaken identity. The reporter Kandani Ngwira who writes for a newspaper the government tried to ban recently was arrested on Monday and was due to appear in court on Wednesday to be formally cleared of the charge.

On Tuesday police alleged Ngwira had sent threatening text messages to an MP. The National Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi quoted Blantyre Newspapers Limited (employers of Ngwira) General Manager Dr Tikhala Chibwana saying Ngwira is not responsible for the sms messages that were sent to the MP.

The company said the MP has apologised to Ngwira saying he was not the person they were dealing with.  “The point is that police arrested the wrong person. Mr Kandani Ngwira is innocent of the allegations that were levelled against him and he should be out of police custody by this time,” was a short statement from Misa Malawi on Wednesday at 1 pm local Malawi time.

On Tuesday, the Associated Press said Ngwira sent a mobile phone text message to the Associated Press Monday saying he had been arrested in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial centre, and was taken to the capital, Lilongwe about 360km.

Ngwira said he was not told why he was being arrested. Ngwira’s Weekend Times is known for reporting on scandals involving the powerful and famous. The government recently ordered it shut down, claiming the paper was unregistered. A court overturned the ban.