I’ve been unable to find any corroborating reports, so can only hope this proves to be a false alarm, but AfricaNews carries the following piece. (Note that the article misgenders Tiwonge throughout, as one now expects):
One of the pardoned gay partners in Malawi, Stoneck aka ‘Aunt Tiwo’ Tiwonge Chimbalanga is reportedly missing. His uncle, village headman Chimbalanga speaking from his village in Thyolo District confirmed the matters. He said Aunt Tiwo arrived in the village at 9pm at night after he and his colleague, Steven monjeza, received a presidential pardon.
A visit to his former working place also yielded no results.
President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned the two on ‘humanitarian grounds; and said homosexuality is still against the laws of Malawi.
Malawi Prisons Service top boss, Macdonald Chaona said he personally instructed his department to deliver the two at their respective homes at 6pm on Saturday.
“It is normal procedure to drop released inmates at their respective homes from where they were arrested,” he said.
Meanwhile Monjeza is safely back trying to re-launch his tinsmith business in the commercial city of Blantyre.
The first open gay couple was released shortly after visit of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to Malawi. During his two-day visit, he spoke with Mutharika at length and also appealed to Parliamentarians at the newly launched state of the art parliament building to revisit ‘archaic laws’.
Further update to follow…
Update, Tuesday 1 June 2010: Although I’ve still not seen any other news reports elsewhere, AfricaNews published a second piece about an hour after the first one I quoted above which reads as follows (misgendering as before):
Stoneck aka Aunt Tiwonge Chimbalanga has gone missing. His uncle, village headman Chimbalanga, says his nephew came to the village at 9pm after his pardon at 6pm Saturday night.
“He briefly stayed here then left. We do not know where he has gone,” said the headman, expressing sadness at his headquarters in Thyolo District.
Whilst Chimbalanga whereabouts are not clear, his lover, Steven Monjeza, is safely at his home in the commrcial city of Blantyre. A media team that visited him said he refused to talk to the press unless he was paid MK100,000 or MK60,000 for his views.
“I might be here and Tiwonge elsewhere. Just know what was there is still the same. I still love Tiwonge,” a drunken Monjeza finally told the press before jumping into a vehicle and speeding off.
He intends to restructure his tinsmith business despite the infamous attention he still attracts back in his community.
Malawi Prisons Service (MPS) chief Macdonald Chaona said he personally instructed that the two be dropped at their homes.
“It is normal for us to drop off former inmates where they were first arrested,” he told the media.
Chimbalanga and Monjeza were released hours after UN Director General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in the country under a presidential pardon.
Government still insists homosexuality is against the laws of Malawi and that should the two be found engaging in same sex activities again, they will be rearrested.
ETA, 2 June 2010: This from Zambian Watchdog:
One of Malawi, gay partner pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika from a 14 year jail, Tiwonge Chimbalanga also well known as ‘Aunt Tiwo’ is reportedly missing.
Chimbalanga was released from prison on Saturday after President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned the gay couple on “humanitarian grounds”.
Malawi Prison chief, Macdonald Chaona told Nyasa Times that Aunt Tiwo was taken to his home village in Thyolo on Saturday night, some 36 kilometers from Blantyre, after being released.
But since his release, Aunt Tiwo has been at large.
His brother-in-law, Maxwell Manda, who works at the High Court, said he had not seen Aunt Tiwo and pointed out that he wanted to leave Malawi upon his release.
“I have not seen him. I don’t know where he is. But he wanted to leave the country after the being released,” said Manda
His uncle, village headman Chimbalanga said Aunt Tiwo arrived in the village at 9pm on Saturday but since then he has not been seen around.
Announcing their pardon, President Mutharika warned that homosexuality remains illegal in Malawi.
Minister of Gender, Women and Children has since warned that the gay couple could be rearrested if they continued with their same-sex relationship.
Steven Monjeza the partner for Chimbalanga told The Nation newspaper that he does not regret falling in love with Aunt Tiwo and also pointed that he has not been in-touch with him since the release from jail.
The couple’s lawyer Mauya Msuku also said he has had no contact with Aunt Tiwo and his partner.
Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia
Previous related posts:
- Malawi: Breaking news – Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga pardoned (May 29, 2010)
- Actions to show support for Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (May 27, 2010)
- Malawi: Live at the witch trials (May 23, 2010)
- Malawi: Couple sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour for getting engaged (May 20, 2010)