Pardoned Malawi Couple Appear on TV
June 3rd, 2010
In the following video taken from TV Malawi and posted on YouTube, you will first see Tiwonge Chimbalanga talking to a reporter. After about a minute, Tiwonge is joined by Steven Monjeza. They are speaking in Chichewa, so if anyone can translate what’s being said that would be extremely helpful.
Steven and Tiwonge appeared at a brief news conference in which they thanked President Bingu wa Mutharika for pardoning them last week after they were convicted and sentenced to fourteen years at hard labor for “gross indecency and unnatural acts” following a traditional engagement ceremony last December. The news conference took place yesterday in the administrative capital of Lilongwe. AFP reports:
A Malawian gay couple who received a presidential pardon on a 14-year sentence for sodomy on Thursday called President Bingu wa Mutharika a “caring father” and a “tolerant president.”
“The president has demonstrated that he is a caring father, a considerate and tolerant president. We wish him good health in his everyday endeavours as he continues leading the country to respecting human rights and to economic prosperity,” the couple said in a statement.
… The couple asked the media and the general public to respect their privacy. “So much has been said and written about us, both positive and negative. We think this is the time for us to be given an opportunity to enjoy our freedom,” they said. They called their ordeal “the most stressful period in our lives.”
Chimbalanga told AFP in a phone interview that he was in Lilongwe to “have a breather”, while his partner had returned to his village.
The Malawi Voice had earlier quoted Steven Monjeza as defiant, despite having been rejected by relatives following the couple’s release:
Prison love cemented our love and whatever happened then remains the same now. I don’t regret falling in love with Chimbalanga. I love him and I will continue doing that,” he said.
Also yesterday, President Mutharika called on reporters and everyone else to stop talking about the “satanic” gays. The story ends there,” he said. “I don’t want to hear anyone commenting on them. Nobody is authorized to comment on the gays. You will spoil things.”
Mutharika also acknowledged to the Malawi Voice that while there was tremendous pressure from foreign donor nations to release Steven and Tiwonge:
“Let me admit that there was pressure from the international community, who threatened to withdraw aid, so we have Zimbabwe to borrow a leaf from. Malawi needs their monies more than her morals to survive.
But despite that recognition, he painted his pardon as a humanitarian act:
“I’ve brought them back for the society to correct them and re-teach them our moral, if God, who we attach all these morals forgive, who are we to condemn them,” said Mutharika.
…”However on humanity, I believe these people have suffered enough emotional pain and the four walls of a jail will only inflict physical pain which is much laser than the emotional. So with the constitution powers vested in me as a president of the republic of Malawi, I therefore pardon them and order for their immediate release.” Said Mutharika.