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Chreaa faults court over rangers ruling

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The Centre for Human Rights Education Advice Assistance (Chreaa) has described as a failure of justice the decision by Blantyre Resident Magistrate’s Court to acquit two Blantyre City Council rangers accused of unlawful wounding.

The court on Friday freed Innocent Maluwa (25) from Mpondasi Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda in Mangochi and Macford Majonga (30) from Changunda Village, T/A Changata in Thyolo who were answering charges of assaulting and wounding Robert Moyo whom they caught washing a vehicle in the city.

In an interview following the judgement, Chreea Executive Director Victor Mhango expressed disappointment with the judgement, observing that victims of violence by city rangers may lose trust in the judicial system.

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“We believe the prosecution put up a good case which should have secured a conviction and the acquittal is very surprising to us.

“The outcome not only has the effect of perpetuating acts of violence by city rangers as they execute their operations but also makes people like the victims here lose trust in the effectiveness of our judicial system,” Mhango said.

Moyo (31) from Makoka Village, T/A Chigalu in Blantyre told the court that he lost some teeth after he was assaulted by BCC rangers on 19 July 2016.

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He identified Maluwa and Majonga as the rangers who used a weapon to injure him.

The court found the two with a case to answer in November 2016.

Passing the ruling on Friday, Resident Magistrate Ibrahim Hussein said the state failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the complainant was assaulted. He also denounced the use of a weapon as fiction.

“There is high possibility that the complainant might have fallen and not assaulted as he clams. The injury he sustained does not support the assertion that he was beaten. All residents in Blantyre have a responsibility to ensure that the city is clean. There are designated places to sell merchandise, hence it is absurd that just because there is a need, one has the right to disregard the city bylaws,” said Hussein.

State lawyer Fostino Maele said he respected the court ruling but is yet to be served with the verdict.

“I am yet to go through the ruling thoroughly and if I find that it is not satisfactory then the law gives us an opportunity to appeal,” he explained.

Spokesperson for the Blantyre City Council Anthony Kasunda welcomed the verdict, saying justice has prevailed.

“We are very happy because we have been saying that our rangers do not use weapons. We were not in the wrong. The court has made it clear that the injury Moyo sustained was a result of resistance to arrest. This has energised us to move people that are doing business in wrong places to designated places,” said Kasunda.

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