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Malawi Parliament's chief security officer arrested for assaulting journalist

Youngson Chilinda, chief security officer at the Parliament of Malawi spent the weekend behind bars following his arrest on Saturday, 1 June 2013 for assaulting female journalist, Thoko Chikondi, at the Parliament building.

The incident took place on Thursday, 30 May 2013. Reports say Chilinda punched the photojournalist several times and obstructed her from executing her professional duties. Chikondi was assaulted as she photographed a consumer rights advocate, John Kapito, who had just presented a petition to the national assembly.

Apparently thinking that it was him who was being photographed, Chilinda claimed that the photojournalist had not first sought his permission and he proceeded to assault her.

Chikondi, who reports for one of Malawi's biggest newspaper companies, Nation Publications Limited (NPL), sustained bruises on her back, as well as soft tissue damage and was treated at Kamuzu Central Hospital.

Appearing before Lilongwe Magistrate Ernest Chimwembe, on 3 June 2013, Chilinda, who is a former soldier, denied the charge of "assault occasioning bodily harm." His bail ruling is set for 4 June 2013.

Speaking to the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Chikondi said she was “feeling much better” and had been overwhelmed by the support received from family, friends, NPL management and media freedom activists. She also said the assault had strengthened her resolve to remain in photojournalism.

“I was at Parliament today, and of course it was a bit different for me. However, I don't have any second thoughts about the work I do and I'll continue being a photojournalist. In a way, the whole experience has made me even more determined,” she said.

Updates on the bail ruling will follow.

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