Malawi gay couple denied bail for ‘own protection’

A court in Malawi on Monday denied bail to two men arrested after becoming the first gay couple to marry in the conservative African country.

Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa told a packed court that he could not grant the couple bail, saying the ruling was for their own protection. “The public out there is angry with them,” Usiwausiwa said.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza committed to marriage in a symbolic ceremony in southern Malawi last month, attracting hundreds of onlookers. They were arrested at the home they share and charged with unnatural practices between males and gross public indecency.

Government prosecutors had asked the court to detain the couple for a longer period to allow for more investigations.

Police said the two men had been taken for medical tests to prove whether they had sexual intercourse. The men’s lawyer has pledged to resist any such tests. “Unless they give their consent to the medical examination, we will protest,” Noel Supedi said.


The case has generated huge interest in Malawi. Suzanne Worrica, a British spectator in court, said: “The crowd atmosphere was again hostile, taunting Tiwonge and Steven, although some gay rights campaigners were present, who gave them money.”

Campaigners have described the case as symbolic of a return to conservative attitudes to homosexuality in parts of Africa. Uganda is debating the introduction of the death penalty for some offences.

Chimbalanga and Monjeza have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. They claim they have been abused in jail. “They beat us up here,” Chimbalanga told the Times last weekend. “Why? We have done no wrong. If they say we have broken laws, why not let the courts judge us?”

Chimbalanga, who dresses in a blouse and describes himself as a woman, said that they became engaged after “my darling, Steven, proposed love to me and we agreed to get married”. He added: “I love my husband and laws should not prohibit love.” But Monjeza has expressed doubts about the public stand he has taken and suggested he might back out of the relationship.

Homosexuality is banned in Malawi and carries a maximum 14-year jail sentence. The trial of the two men has been set for next week. – guardian.co.uk

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Malawi’s new president is off to a good start

In 100 days of presidency, Lazarus Chakwera has been mostly well received despite a few glitches

Tanzania’s opposition leader on reggae, resistance and his own resurrection

Sixteen bullets and 27 operations later, Tanzania’s main opposition leader has recovered from a brutal assassination attempt – and is now in the middle of an even bigger fight

Tanzania’s opposition finds that forming a united front is not so easy

Having missed the chance to form a coalition, a so-called ‘endorsement’ may be the next-best step

This is how Lungu is planning to rig Zambia’s 2021 general election

The president is trying to amend the Constitution and create a new voters’ roll in a bid to stay in power

Why do presidents cling to power?

Four former heads of state speak about what being president is actually like

‘Courageous reinvention’: an extract from Mark Gevisser’s ‘The Pink Line’

In this extract from Mark Gevisser’s new book, Aunty, fleeing abuse and witchcraft, treks to northern Malawi
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

Murder of anti-mining activist emboldens KZN community

Mam’Ntshangase was described as a fierce critic of mining and ambassador for land rights.

Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday