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Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were pardoned by Malawi's president and released from prison on Saturday, have returned to their separate home villages, the U.K. Guardian reports.

Chimbalanga, who identifies as a transgender woman, was sent from prison to her family's home in Thylo, 22 miles from the city of Blantyre, where she been incarcerated. Monjeza, meanwhile, is reported to be in Chileka, nine miles from Blantyre.

Monjeza's family members say they are determined to keep the couple apart. Aunt Zione Monjeza told The Guardian, "Nobody wants to see Tiwonge again in this village. If he dares come here, he must do so with police for his protection." And uncle Khuliwa Dennis Monjeza said, "We want to warn his partner, Tiwonge, that he should never set foot in this village ... otherwise we shall deal with him."

The Guardian reported that when one of its reporters approached Monjeza, he replied, "I can't just talk to you. I am selling my story. Give me K100,000 (about $665)." He then dropped his request to K60,000, adding, "I need money. Good money. I have just come out of prison. I need to survive."

On Saturday, The New York Times spoke to Chimbalanga via cell phone with the help of an interpreter. "I've been under so much emotional stress that I need to find somewhere to rest," she said. "I still want to marry Steven. But I don't know what he's thinking anymore. We've been through so much."

Chimbalanga added, "I think it's going to be hard to stay in Malawi. I am afraid of what people might do to us. We probably need to seek asylum in some other country. Is there a place for us? I don't know."

Monjeza and Chimbalanga were imprisoned in December after they engaged in what Malawi officials considered an illegal same-sex commitment ceremony. They were sentenced last week to 14 years in prison on charges of gross indecency and unnatural acts.

Their pardon and release came after U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon visited Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika and reportedly told him that the controversy surrounding the couple's arrest and imprisonment was having a negative effect on Malawi's international reputation.

In announcing the pardon, Mutharika said, "These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion, and our laws. However, as the head of state, I hereby pardon them and ask for their immediate release with no conditions." will continue to update this story, along with any information -- as it becomes available -- on how readers may be able to help Monjeza and Chimbalanga.

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