January 15th, 2010
The trial against Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were arrested by Malawi police last month following a traditional engagement ceremony in Blantyre, began this week with the prosecutor for South Dickens Mwambazi telling the court that they had a total of seven witness. Four witnesses testified on Monday:
One of the state witnesses was Jean Kamphale, owner of Mankhoma Lodge, where the two suspects had their engagement ceremony.
Kamphale said Chimbalanga confessed to having sex with partner Monjeza to both herself and the police when they picked them on December 28, last year.
“After the media published the story about the two’s engagement, I felt having been deceived by Tionge who for a long time claimed to be a woman.
“He therefore offered to undress so that we could prove the truth of his claims. But after some resistance to show us his genitals, Tionge finally allowed Nyazayi Piringu, Flony Frank and I to see his organ, which to our surprise and contrary to his claims that it was feminine, was male in nature,” Kamphale said.
Tiwonge Chimbalanga identifies as a woman.
The other three witnesses on Monday denied having evidence that the accused had sex before they were arrested. Evidence of sexual penetration is required under Malawi law for conviction. Monjeza and Chimbalanga were reportedly threatened with humiliating physical examinations by the prosecutor’s office. There are also charges that the two have been beaten by police and fellow prisoners. They were denied bail.
In more troubling news, the trial was expected to resume on Wednesday to hear testimony from the last three witnesses, but Chief Resident magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa adjourned the case because, according to the Nyasa Times, Tiwonge was sick, providing no more details. But The Times of London more fully describes this outrageous and humiliating development:
Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who has spent more than a week in one of the country\’s most congested prisons, vomited and stumbled onto the dusty court floor just before the case was due to start.
As he lay on the ground he was jeered by members of the public who had crowded in to watch what has become a cause célÃ¨bre and a test case for gay rights in the African nation.
“Auntie Tiwo ali ndi mimba” — or “Auntie Tiwo is pregnant” — people said.
With no one to assist him, Mr Chimbalanga, 20, dressed with a traditional dotted red and yellow striped wrapper around his waist and a red top, finally managed to stand and was allowed to leave to clean himself up.
A few minutes later he re-emerged with a mop and a pail to clean the vomit from the court floor — a chore that women in Africa typically have to perform even when they are sick.
The two face fourteen years imprisonment if they are convicted.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
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