Hundreds of angry residents in South Lunzu Township in Blantyre on Wednesday night set ablaze South Lunzu Magistrate’s Court following fears that the court would grant three murder suspects bail.
The three murder suspects, who are vendors plying their trade at Luwanda Trading Centre in the same township, are suspected to have murdered a fellow businessperson, McNova Richard, on January 8, 2016.
The three allegedly removed the skin form the deceased’s skull while he was still alive but later died at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital the following day.
Early this month, police picked the three, whose names have not yet been released, a development that pleased members of the community who anticipated that peace and security would once again prevail in the area.
However, the residents were puzzled on Wednesday to learn that the three murder suspects, whose case was committed to the High Court two weeks ago, were back at South Lunzu Magistrate’s Court for bail hearing.
This irritated the residents who were eager to see justice done on this murder case, hence prompting the irate community members to invade the court, in the process disrupting a case which was not related to the murder matter in question.
The magistrate and court clerks ran for their dear lives and called for police help who immediately arrived at the scene.
Despite police arriving at the scene, the irate community members did not relent. Instead, a ferocious battle between the police and the community ensued from dusk to midnight.
In the process, community member’s petro-bombed the court, destroying court furniture and files and left the building in ashes and smoke.
One of the court clerks, Tisayiwale Mvuto, said an additional police crew was called in to restore order when things had already gone out of hand.
When The Daily Times crew visited the township yesterday, snap roadblocks were instituted along Limbe-Machinjiri road while heavily armed police officers in camouflage could be seen patrolling the township.
Ironically, according to Blantyre Police Deputy Spokesperson, Andrew Mayawo, police had in their custody suspects that committed violence and armed robbery offences in the area of Traditional Authority Kutanja in Blantyre.
“The three suspects that killed Richard are still on remand at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre and their case was committed to the High Court. The action of the community members was based on ignorance and mistaken identity,” he said.
In the meantime, the Judiciary has indefinitely suspended court proceedings at South Lunzu Magistrate Court.
Judiciary Spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, said it is sad that the residents, who earlier retreated after being told the truth, gutted the court.
“It is a very sad incident which in all spheres we condemn it in the strongest terms. This would also contribute to depriving people’s rights to accessing justice,” Mvula said.
He could, however, not explain how they will retrieve the case files that were kept in the gutted court, saying that process would need more ample time.
At the moment, three leading suspects in the gutting down of the court have been arrested.
The three are Henry Masina, 24, from Mwanza; Rabson Magombo, 28, from Zomba and Aron Monjeza, 39, from Chiradzulu.
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