Mbeya. Mbeya Urban Member of Parliament Joseph Mbilinyi, alias Sugu, and the party’s secretary for the Southern Highlands, Mr Emanuel Masonga, were yesterday released from Ruanda Prison where they had been detained since February 27, this year.
A Tanzania Prisons Services spokesperson told The Citizen that Mr Mbilinyi and Mr Masonga were released following a Presidential Pardon.
The President pardoned 3,319 prisoners during the commemoration of 54th Union anniversary, whereby 585 inmates were released immediately.
Mr Mbilinyi and Mr Masonga were among 2, 734 prisoners who remained in prison to complete a quarter of their sentences as required by law.
Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe accompanied by other Chadema leaders who arrived at the prison around 6:45 AM were unable to see Mr Mbilinyi as security around the prison was tightened.
They later learnt that Mr Mbilinyi and Mr Masonga had secretly been released from the prison.
Speaking to The Citizen, Mr Mbilinyi’s wife, Ms Happy Msonge, said while they were at Ruanda prison ready to pick up Sugu and Masonga, they were informed that the two were already on their way home. In the prison vehicle was also a medical doctor, she revealed.
Mr Mbilinyi and his co-accused were found guilty in February, by the Mbeya Resident Magistrate’s Court, of uttering ‘abusive words’ against President John Magufuli at a political rally. They were sentenced to five years in jail.
Speaking at the Chadema southern highlands headquarters shortly after he was released, Mr Mbilinyi said he had learnt a lot during his 73-day stay behind bars with Mr Masonga. He called on the electorate to remain calm.
“There is no need for revenge (with regard to his sentence) you should channel your anger to the ballot box come 2020,” he told Chadema supporters.
For his part, Mr Masonga said he did not believe that they had been pardoned by the President.
“As I said earlier, we were imprisoned unceremoniously and we have been released unceremoniously,” said Mr Masonga.