Malawi: Mutharika 'Sorry' Over Churches Shutdown - Malawi Presidential Aide Delivers Apology in Balaka

Malawi President Peter Mutharika (file photo).
28 April 2020

President Peter Mutharika sent his aide Apostle Timothy Khoviwa to apologise to churchgoers in Balaka over the shut down of churches on Sunday by police as a preventive measure against coronavirus.

The presidential advisor on religious affairs Khoviwa has confirmed making the apology on behalf of Mutharika over the incident.

"At the moment, there is no restriction to stop prayer gatherings in totality," Khoviwa said.

He, however, said that people should continue observing the coronavirus preventive measures guidelines.

Some church leaders in the district are already calling for the transfer of the police officer-in-charge in the district.

Earlier, police justified its decision to close churches on Sunday, saying this was done in public interest.

Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said this was done to enforce the government order of suspending public gatherings.

Pastors in Balaka on Sunday evening met to demand Police explanation on why, earlier the day, they went around the district disrupting church gatherings in the name of Covid-19.

Pastor Lington Gwazeni, who is the chairperson of the Evangelical Association of Malawi Balaka Chapter said they summoned the Officer-In-Charge for Balaka Police and District Council Chair to explain their action.

The police boss did not show up and Council Chair Steve Sauka says the Police did not consult the council about the move.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Jappie Mhango said two new cases were reported on Monday - bringing the total number of cases to 36 with three deaths and four recoveries.

Mhango said the new cases were a 47-year-old man from Chileka Blantyre, who returned from Tanzania on April 18 and the other one was a 29-year-old man from Livimbo in area 2 Lilongwe, who had no history of recent travel.

Health officials were doing contact tracing to test all persons who were in contact with the two men.

The High Court in Lilongwe was expected to deliver a judgment on Wednesday in a case involving the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) which obtained an order stopping government from implementing a three-week long lockdown in attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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