Deputy Director of Criminal Investigation Department at Malawi Police Service, Isaac Norman, has said a team of six senior police officers investigating allegations of rape, defilement and indecent assault of women and girls last year in some areas of Lilongwe rural was given 14 days to conclude their inquiry.
The women are from areas around Msundwe.
Addressing members of the press in Lilongwe Tuesday, Norman said the 14 days were being counted from December 31 2019, the day the team commenced its investigations.
“There is a timeframe for the investigations which is a maximum of 14 days everything being equal but key to this investigation is cooperation from the victims, key stakeholders, parents and the communities where the incidences occurred,” he said.
The police started the investigations after Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) released a report on the matter, recommending that the Inspector General (IG) of MPS should institute criminal investigations.
Deputy IG responsible for Administration, John Nyondo, who chaired the press briefing, said MPS was committed to getting to the bottom of the matter without bias.
“MPS shall endeavour in its actions against the alleged perpetrators of these crimes to accord all suspects their right to be heard [including their right to legal representation] to appear before a disciplinary committee that shall hear these allegations or indeed seek the Attorney General’s advice on the matter,’’ Nyondo said.
He further said intermediary steps against those alleged to have committed the crimes and omissions shall be undertaken.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has brushed off police investigations into the matter arguing it is long overdue and most police investigations, particularly that involve its officers, yield nothing.
HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence said they will continue with demonstrations slated for Thursday.
“We want the police to arrest everyone who was on duty during the Msundwe operation as well as on the day Buleya Lule died while in police custody. We have been saying police cannot investigate itself and that is why we have been asking for an independent police complaints handling unit,” Mtambo said.
Trapence said the coalition will write the United Nations to discontinue any involvement of the police officers in peace-keeping operations in other countries.
On Thursday, HRDC is expected to deliver its petition at the police headquarters in Lilongwe.