BLANTYRE:-The self-acclaimed supreme leader of Peoples Land Organization (PLO) leader Vincent Wandale says will seek International Criminal Court (ICC)s intervention following his conviction on Thursday.
Blantyre Senior resident magistrate Thokozani Soko convicted Wandale on three accounts of conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, unauthorized use of land and criminal trespass.
In his judgment Magistrate Soko said Wandale was convicted after the court found him of aiding, abetting and encouraging people to encroach Conforzi Tea Estate.
Soko added that the supreme leader failed to justify himself as a bona fide owner of the said land which have seen its passing from one generation to another.
On the other hand, the same court, has acquitted Wandeles co-accused Tendai Nsikita for not having an intention to benefit from the act at the estate that was only sent by his organization.
Court therefore has set November 8, for sentencing upon conviction.
But the Supreme leader told journalists outside the court after the ruling that he will appeal and take case further to ICC in Hague.
He strongly challenged that the case will not end in the country but elsewhere for an appeal arguing that the land under the subject matter remains a sovereign state.
“I maintain my stand that we are a sovereign State and have freehold of all land belonging to United States of Thyolo and Mulanje.
“I don’t care whether the court recognizes it or not. We will also be taking this issue to International Criminal Justice (ICC) in Hague for it final determination on our land”, challenged Wandale.
Meanwhile Wandales conviction has received with mix reaction, firstly from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Mulanje South lawmaker Bon Kalindo who described the verdict as unfortunate.
Legislator Kalindo who is also a leader and founder of Citizen for Protection of Mulanje (CPM) said the court’s decision was detriment to local citizens fight for their land rights.
While Senior Chief Ngolongoliwa of Thyolo has hailed the judgment arguing that will discourage those people who take the law into own hands.
Ngolongoliwa even challenged Wandale zeal to claim the two districts sovereignty spiting him off that doesn’t belong to any chieftaincy blood line.
Wandale was arrested in September 1, 2016 following reports that he led hundreds of locals to invade private-owned Conforzi Estate in Thyolo district.
He even authored a strong letter titled, The African Traditionalist Government of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje (MUST) declaring war against the foreign aggression from their ancestors’ land.
The letter which the Maravi Post sourced at that time aided his arrest and in part it red; “Following the powers vested in the Supreme Leader by article 110 of the Constitution of the African Traditionalist Republic of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje (MUST) on declaration of war and peace and the mobilization of the armed forces.
“The African Traditionalist Government of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje (MUST) has declared a state of war against the Republic of Malawi and shall commence hostilities on Friday, the 9th of September, in the year 2016 to ward off the foreign aggression unleashed by the Republic of Malawi. All neutral neighboring States including Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia are asked to take note of this development.
“All citizens of the African Traditionalist Republic of MUST are being asked to gear up for war and undergo military training as provided for in the Constitution of the African Traditionalist Republic of MUST. Corporate taxation without exemption shall be levied on all colonial estate companies in Thyolo and Mulanje to finance state operations and the war effort and any defaults shall be resolved by nationalizing the concerned estate”. concluded Wandales statement.
In April this year, Wandale declared Thyolo and Mulanje as independent states calling it the “United States of Mulanje and Thyolo” purportedly on behalf of the group.
He gave government up to September 1 to resolve the land issue by giving them back their forefather’s land or would start distributing among them.
The PLO has been agitating for the local people’s occupation of all idle tea estates land in the districts since its establishment in 2009.
The organization has been demanding that estates owners pay £65 (about K53 000) per acre per year for all used colonial estate land from 1914 to date.
PLO has also been requesting from the estates owners a wage rate of £6.13 per hour (about K5 000) per individual for those who were involved in Thangata (bonded labour) between 1914 and 1963.