20 May 2019

Malawi Releases South African Private Plane Detained After False Intelligence

President Peter Mutharika could have been given false intelligence, or he was tolf things that are not true, he was lied to after law enforcing agencies failed to get any 'evidence' on a South African private charter plane which took Vice President Saulos Chilima to Likoma and was detained in Lilongwe on Saturday.

Malawi police detain 'suspicious' jet

Mutharika said during his last campaign rally in Blantyre that he is aware that Chilima 'had something' in the plane and he was going to investigate.

Chilima outclassed his presidential candidates contesters by campaign at Likoma Island on Friday afternoon using the charted plane from South Africa. The other presidential contenders including Mutharika, with Malawi Army planes at his disposal failed to go and campaign on the Island.

The move incensed Mutharika after many political commentators commended Chilima for 'reaching to all the corners' of the country with his rally at Likoma Island.

To get to the Island, one needs to use a ship or a plane.

Mutharika instructed the Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose to detain and search the plane for 'some suspicious materials'.

Several searches on the plane found nothing and government even claimed that it had accommodated the pilots of the plane at a local hotel while the search continued.

However, a fact check statement of the whole saga provided by lawyers for the two pilots of the charter plane indicate that government did not even book for hotel accommodation for them and their searches did not yield anything.

The two pilots have since been allowed to fly back to South Africa through Kamuzu International Airport on Monday afternoon.

Rory Baxter and Phillip Pretorius are citizens of the Republic of South Africa and licensed commercial pilots.

In other countries giving false intelligence to the President can get the officers or head of the intelligence fire or suspended.

" On Friday, 17 May, 2019, took command of a charter flight on a King Air B200 aircraft under the registration number ZS-SDS. The charter flight was commissioned by ExecuJet Aviation Group on hire from Fair Aviation. ExecuJet Aviation Group and Fair Aviation are South African companies," explain the lawyers in the statement.

The charter flight details were that the commercial pilots were to fly out of O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa into Lilongwe, Malawi through Kamuzu International Airport.

"From Lilongwe, our clients were to proceed with their flight to Mzuzu in northern Malawi. In Mzuzu, they were to proceed to Likoma Island, northern Malawi. All relevant airspace and landing permits were obtained from the Governments of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi," reads the statement in part.

"During the Johannesburg to Lilongwe leg of the flight, there was no passenger. During the Lilongwe to Mzuzu leg of the flight, there were two passengers. And during the Mzuzu to Likoma Island round trip, there were seven passengers; one of the passengers being the State Vice President of the Republic of Malawi, the Right Honourable Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima and the Presidential Candidate of UTM during the Tripartite Elections of 21 May, 2019," explain the lawyers.

In the evening of 17 May, 2019, the charter proceeded to Lilongwe from Mzuzu. When they landed at Kamuzu International Airport, officers from the Malawi Police Service and other security institutions searched aircraft.

The pilots were questioned and statements were recorded. The search did not yield anything that breached the Laws of Malawi. The pilots duly filed their flight plan for Saturday, 18 May, 2019 and they were due to fly out of Lilongwe to Johannesburg at 08 00 hours on the said Saturday, 18 May 2019.

"On Saturday, 18 May, 2019, the pilots were blocked from flying out of Malawi and were subsequently detained. The Malawi Police Service, the National Intelligence Bureau, the military intelligence section of the Malawi Defence Force conducted yet another search of the aircraft. This search did not yield anything that breached the Laws of Malawi. All officers from the various State security agencies confirmed this position in the presence of the lawyers of the pilots. "Notwithstanding this outcome, our clients were still denied the authority to fly out of Malawi. At this point, the pilots had legal representation led by Dr. Chikosa Silungwe. The lawyers were present during the second search," said the lawyers.

"Even though, the second search confirmed that there was nothing illegal committed by the pilots, the Officer in Charge at Kamuzu International Airport Police Station refused to release the pilots and the aircraft because she was waiting from further instructions from above."

"It turned out that the further instructions were to come from Inspector General Rodney Jose. Despite repeated calls from the lawyers of the pilots, Inspector General Jose did not pick up his phone. After consultation between the lawyers of the pilots and the Legal Department at Malawi Police Headquarters, it was resolved that the pilots should return to their hotel."

"On Sunday, 19 May, 2019, the lawyers of the pilots obtained a High Court Order for the release for their release. The Court Order was served on the Attorney General and the Inspector General of the Police on the same day. The Attorney General, Kalekeni Kaphale, personally acknowledged service of the Order and Barbara Mchenga acknowledged service on behalf of the Inspector General of Police."

"Although there was a Court Order in place, the pilots refused permission to fly out of Lilongwe later on Sunday afternoon. The Malawi Police Service and the wider State machinery of the Government continued to block the two pilots from flying out of Malawi."

"In the evening of 19 May, 2019, the Police issued a press release which bizarrely claimed that the aircraft was under investigations because it had suspicious materials on board; and that the Police had opted to pay for the pilots' stay in Lilongwe at a local hotel. Again, at no point were any suspicious materials found on the aircraft. Two searches conducted by the Police and other State security agencies found nothing suspicious. And at no point did the Police pay for the pilots' stay in Malawi."

"Due to further efforts to have the pilots and the aircraft released, the pilots finally flew out aboard their aircraft in the afternoon of Monday, 20 May 2019," explained the lawyers.

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