Chief resident magistrate court in Lilongwe has granted bail to human rights activists Gift Trapence and Macdonald Sembereka.

The activists were arrested on charges of operating an organisation without authorization, acquiring 7.2 million kwacha from UNAIDS and money laundering.

Chief resident magistrate Violet Chipawo granted the bail on condition that they pay 200 thousand bail bond each, 1 million kwacha non cash surety, surrender their travelling documents to court and report to police every Friday.

Magistrate Chipawo said “the activists have been granted bail because they surrendered themselves when they heard that they were wanted and their bail will not interfere with investigations.”

Witness for Gift Trapence is Timothy Mtambo and Lawrence Alumando for Macdonald Sembereka.

Meanwhile, Malawi police service MPS has told all those demanding uncondictional release of Trapence and Sembereka that their arrest is not politically motivated.

Public relations officer for MPS Senior Superintendent James Kadadzera says the arrest and subsequent charging of them was based on a complaint that was laid against them by UNAIDS country coordinator.

“Her complaint was that Sembereka and Trapence acting as chief executive officer and Trustee respectively of MANGO LGBTI and key populations had fraudulently misappropriated over 7.9 million kwacha meant for security trainings of key populations in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu,” Kadadzera said

He said fraud whether committed by human rights activists or not remains a criminal offence and cannot be regarded as an exercise of political rights.

Kadadzera said the organizations have accused MPS of clamping down on the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.