LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Violet Chipawo on Friday granted bail to two human rights activists Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembeleka arrested for alleged fraud.

This follows the United Nations (UN)s demanded of their unconditional release.

The State has  therefore charged Sembereka with three counts while Trapence is facing four counts.

Sembereka is suspected of forgery of official documents, uttering a false document and money laundering and operating an unregistered NGO.

Trapence, on the other hand, is suspected of forgery of official documents of Mkango Lodge in Blantyre for a purported lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) and sex workers workshop which never happened, uttering false documents and operating an NGO ‘Mango’ without registering it with the NGO Board.

The duo is also co-accused of acquiring MK7.4 million for the said workshop on LGBTI and sex workers.

Making her bail ruling on Friday, Chipawo said each of the suspect should pay MK200 000 surity, one surity each to pay MK1 million bond each, should be reporting at the Police Headquarters on Friday every fortnight and should not interfere with the investigations.

The state had earlier objected to the bail application citing further ongoing investigations, possible interference with witnesses among other as reasons.

UNAIDS Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of Programmes, Shannon Hader attended the bail hearing.

On Wednesday evening, UNAIDS called for the immediate release of the activists saying it reported MANGO to police but the case did not represent legal action against the organisation.

“UNAIDS respectfully requests the immediate release of the two members of the Mango Network, Mr Gift Trapence and Mr Macdonald Sembereka, from police custody.

“UNAIDS is strongly supportive of the full empowerment and engagement of civil society organizations in the AIDS response. It looks forward to continuing its partnership with community and civil society organizations in ensuring that all people affected by HIV have access to HIV prevention, treatment and social support services and that their human rights are protected,” reads in part the statement.

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