Malawi’s Minister of Gender and Children, Patricia Kaliati has issued a stern warning to Tiwonge Chimbalanga alias ‘Aunt Tiwo’ that he will be rearrested if he continues same-sex liaison with his gay partner Steven Monjeza after being pardoned.
Monjeza, 26, and Chimbalanga, 20, were released from prison on Saturday evening, hours after President Bingu wa Mutharika announced their pardon.
Free-speaking Kaliati told BBC that the gay couple risk being rearrested if they “continue doing that”.
“It doesn’t mean that now they are free people, they can keep doing whatever you keep doing,” she said.
President Mutharika pardoned the gay couple after a meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon.
The President said the release had no conditions attached.
But Kaliati insisted that the Malawi leader had not bowed to international pressure in releasing the gay couple and snubbed calls to change laws against homosexuality.
“We have our own rules and laws which we are following, and our own constitution. Our constitution is not the same as your constitution,” she said.
The gay couple were taken tot their separate home villages after being released from prison.
Lawyer Mauya Msuku conceded that they were unlikely to be treated in the same way if they were arrested again.
“The pardon only applies to the offence under which they were convicted. If, for example, they go back and the state is of the view that they have re-committed the offence, the pardon will not apply,” Msuku said.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga were arrested on December 28 last year, a day after they celebrated their engagement and had been in custody ever since.
They were convicted of engaging in gay sex under a law dating back to colonial rule by Britain and sentenced to 14 years’ hard labour.
UN Secretary-General lauded the “courageous” decision President Mutharika to pardon the voicing hope that Malawi would update its laws to reflect international standards.