The State says if social media activist Joshua Mbele is to be granted bail his freedom of expression, especially posting on social media on anything to do with his case or material that has potential to damage other people’s reputation must be restricted.

Mbele, who was arrested on Tuesday this week, appeared before senior resident magistrate Wanangwa Chirwa in Lilongwe yesterday for bail application whose ruling was reserved for today.

Was arrested on
Tuesday: Mbele

He is answering to two counts, criminal libel contrary to Section 200 of the Penal Code and publication of offensive communication contrary to Section 87 of the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act.

The offences are in relation to Mbele’s Facebook post on January 10 this year where he alleged that Malawi Defence Force Commander General Vincent Nundwe corruptly benefitted the . sum of K4 billion from deals with

 Zuneth Sattar, who is currently under investigation by both United Kingdom and Malawian authorities

Mbele, yesterday, pleaded not guilty to both counts, but he could not be granted bail after the State asked the court to restrict him from making any comments or posting on social media anything to do with the case or any other matter that potentially damages the character of someone.

State prosecutor Levision Mangani said they did not object to Mbele’s bail so long the State imposes restrictions which include stopping him from publishing any material which affects the reputation of others.

However, defence lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa argued against the restriction, saying freedom of expression is a constitutionally enshrined right which can only be limited after meeting a certain threshold, which he thinks the State has not been able to meet.

Mangani said he understands the said threshold on limitation of rights, but said theirs was not for a lifetime rather only limited to the period of trial.

“The court has the powers to order such limitations. This is in the same way that the courts, as part of bail conditions, have restricted some people’s or suspects movements,” he argued.

Mbele has been in custody since Tuesday and hearing for bail is expected to continue this morning

The post State wants Mbele’s freedom of expression restricted appeared first on The Nation Online.