May 29, 2006
Posted: July 10, 2006
Jika Nkolokosa, Blantyre Newspapers Ltd.
Maxwell Ng’ambi, Blantyre Newspapers Ltd.
Nkolokosa, general manager of the private media group Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL), and Ng’ambi, a reporter for BNL, were charged with criminal libel in connection with articles criticizing Malawi’s health minister. BNL publishes the Daily Times and the weekly Malawi News.
The charge stemmed from an article published in Malawi News in December 2005, which alleged that Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba was being audited for failing to account for public funds, according to the local chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA). The Senegal-based wire service Panapress reported that the minister had objected to the story, but the newspaper refused to retract it. The charge sheet accused the journalists of publishing the allegation “knowing it to be false and with intent to defame.”
Ntaba lost his position as health minister in a cabinet reshuffle several days after the journalists appeared in court, according to news reports. It did not appear that the decision was linked to the case. It was unclear whether the charges against Nkolokosa and Ng’ambi were dropped.