Judgment Day for Steven and Tiwonge

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2010

Steven Monjeza (left) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (right)

A Malawi Court will render its verdict today in the case involving Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, who were charged with buggery and gross indecency following a traditional engagement ceremony last December. The two will appear today before a Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa at Blantyre Magistrates Court, where they face up to fourteen years at hard labor. The Guardian (UK) reports that the Tiwonge and Steven have remained loyal to each other despite the hardships they’ve already faced:

Peter Tatchell, the veteran British gay rights campaigner, has maintained contact with the pair at the maximum security Chichiri prison in Blantyre as they prepare to stand trial next week.

Tatchell told the Guardian he received a defiant message from Chimbalanga that said: “I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.”

Tatchell, of the rights group Outrage!, also quoted Monjeza – who is described as thin and weak with jaundiced eyes – as saying: “We have come a long way and even if our family relatives are not happy, I will never stop loving Tiwonge.”

The Guardian also reports that Tiwonge and Steven have been abandoned by their relatives:

Angry residents and relatives from Machinjiri township, on the outskirts of Blantyre, say they will not allow them to return home if they are set free.

“They have given this township a bad name,” said Maikolo Phiri, a local vendor.

Zione Monjeza, an aunt of Monjeza, said: “We as a family have been terribly embarrassed to be associated with this gay thing. It’s a curse and a big shame. We will chase them away if they are freed.”

Nchiteni Monjeza, Monjeza’s uncle, said: “I won’t drop a tear if they are jailed – they deserve it.”

Lynn David

May 18th, 2010

I had an uncle like that…. it is so very sad.

The ball, so to speak, is now in Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa’s court. Whichever way the Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate rules, the issue of Malawi’s most famous couple is far from over.

I don’t think they have a case unless gross indecency is enough of a catch-all. It seems enough of a catch-all to cover what has happened to Monjeza and Chimbalanga at the hands of Malawi officials.

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