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Police acted on ‘complaint from UNAids Country Director’ to arrest, charge Sembereka, Trapence

Written by  MBC Online

Malawi Police Service (MPS) on Friday parried accusations that the arrest of two leading rights activists was “poltically-motivated”, saying Police acted on a complaint from the UNAids Country Director which led to the arrest and subsequent charges of  rights activists McDonald Sembereka and Gift Trapence over the K7.9 million fraud.

Kadadzera: Arrests not politically-motivated. Kadadzera: Arrests not politically-motivated.

MPS chief spokesman James Kadadzera said in a statement that the complaint was that Sembereka and Trapence acting as executive director and trustee respectively of the MANGO LGBTI [Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex)  and Key Populations Network had “fraudently misappropriated K 7,933,500 meant for security trainings of Key Populations in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu.”


The chief PRO said: “As a matter of fact, any organisation or individual that has taken time to consider the complaint that the Malawi Police Service received from the UNAids Country Director would not fairly accuse the Service of using politically-motivated charges to suppress dissent.”

"Fraud, whether committed by human rights activists or not, remains a criminal offence and can, in no way, be regarded as an exercise of political rights,” he said.

Kadadzera said local and international organisations had accused MPS of “clamping down on the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and a ploy to harass and intimidate the activists and force them to end post-election demonstrations.

“The arrest of the two is not in any way politically-motivated.”

The State has charged Sembereka, first accused, and Gift Trapence, second accused, with three and four counts respectively, which include forgery of official documents, uttering a false document, money laundering and operating an NGO called Mango without registration with the NGO Board.

The UN said the issue that led to their arrest was amicably resolved as the two would pay back the cash.


The activists were released on bail on Friday.

In a memo widely circulated on social media and which has been confirmed as authentic, the UN said: “In this respect, the United Nations wants to clarify that the case affecting Mango has reached an amicable resolution and the funds will be repaid to UNAids.The declaration made by UNAids staff members to the police of 5 July 2019 did not represent legal action by the organisation.”


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