Tanzanian opposition leader falls ill in jail

Thursday January 17 2019

Tanzanian main opposition Chadema party chairman Freeman Mbowe has been in remand for close to three months. PHOTO | MWANANCHI | NMG

By The EastAfrican

Tanzanian main opposition Chadema party chairman, who has been in remand for nearly three months, failed to attend a court session on Thursday morning due to illness, the prosecutors said.

Mr Freeman Mbowe, along with eight other top party leaders are facing charges of sedition, incitement to violence and holding an "illegal rally" in February 2018 that led to the death of a female student, who was killed by a police stray bullet.

State attorney Mr Patrick Mwita told the Kisutu Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri on Thursday that they were informed by the Prisons Department of the ill health of Mr Mbowe and that he could not attend the hearing in person.

“All the accused persons are present today except for the first defendant who is ill and unable to be brought before the court,” he said.

On November 23, the Dar es Salaam-based court revoked the bails of Mr Mbowe and one of his co-accused, MP Esther Matiko, and ordered them remanded in prison for contempt of court for failing to show up for hearing.

At the time, Mr Mbowe said be had been taken ill while Ms Matiko said she had been on parliamentary duty outside the country.


Several attempts to secure bail have failed and they have since appealed.

Other Chadema leaders facing charges but are out on bail are the secretary-general Vincent Mashinji, deputy secretary-general for Zanzibar, Salum Mwalimu; his Mainland counterpart John Mnyika; Tarime Rural MP John Heche; Kawe MP Halima Mdee; MP for Bunda Esther Bulaya and Iringa Urban MP Rev Peter Msigwa.

-Reporting by The Citizen.