Malawian cabinet ministers in prayer fracas
Attempts by two cabinet ministers to get back a TV camera belonging to Malawi Broadcasting Corporation which some Muslims faithful confiscated in Mangochi on Saturday turned ugly.
Police sources have confirmed that Economic Planning Minister Ralph Jooma and Energy Minister Ibrahim Matola were caught up in fracas when they at tempted to get TV cameras which some Muslim faithfuls snatched from MBC crew.
The concerned Muslim faithful are reported to have impounded the cameras when the MBC team began taking footage of their prayers without seeking permission.
But Matola played down the issue on Sunday, saying he did not escape from the scene, while Jooma could not be reached on his mobile phone.
“We (ministers) were coming from our political rally when we were approached by lady and cameraman from MBC to help them get their camera which had been seized by the Muslims. The MBC crew was working on a documentary.
“We went there and asked for the leader of the group like a sheikh but they proved uncooperative as they refused us to have a meeting with any of their leaders. When we saw that we could not do anything, we left the place,” said Matola, adding he never run away from the scene.
He said he could not speak on behalf of Jooma but he was sure he was not assaulted as some reports alleged. But some sources privy to the incident claimed that Jooma was assaulted while Matola had to run away.
Following the incident, a reporter for the privately owned Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) for Mangochi, Raphael Mlozoa, was on Sunday detained at Mangochi Police Station after allegedly being beaten by one of the ministers’ bodyguards for “shaming” their bosses.
The beating allegedly occurred when the ministers summoned the reporter to MBC Mangochi studios, claiming they had been humiliated with this airing of the news about the incident.
Mlozoa was, however, released without any charge as the police said they detained him for safety purposes.
Matola, who confirmed summoning Mlozoa, could not confirm nor deny the assault of the journalist as he said it could have perhaps happened when he went out temporarily to attend to a phone call.
Eastern Region Police spokesperson Thomeck Nyaude on Sunday confirmed about the seizure of the camera but was elusive on the assaults, saying they did not have an official report on the matter.
ZBS Managing Director Gospel Kazako declined to comment on the assault and detention of Mlozoa, saying they were making independent investigations into the matter.