People gathered at Lilongwe Community Centre early in the morning Tuesday waiting to start their march to Capital Hill.
But the unusual happened— people started torching a Malawi Police armoured motor vehicle and house of a Malawi Police officer at C Company in reaction to the law enforcers’ alleged intimidation of the protesters.
By this time, organisers, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) officials had not arrived at the scene.
HRDC Chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence arrived along Mchesi Road at around 11 O’clock in the morning and the people started marching to Capital Hill in the afternoon.
Some people pelted motor vehicles that were passing by with stones while others vandalised and looted grocery shops along Kamuzu Procession Road.
While passing through Chilambula, some people broke into Motor Vehicle Spares and Accessories (Movesa) and Eicher shops.
At Movesa, people destroyed number plates and ran away with cash.
Military police intervened and arrested some people.
Some protesters torched a a vehicle belonging to Local Government Ministry and a brand new Ministry of Health Coaster that were stationed at Lilongwe Girls Secondary School.
Eventually, the protesters arrived at Capital Hill at 4 O’clock in the afternoon but did not enter the gate which police officers manned.
Mtambo said if Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah does not resign, they would engage an extra gear.
Asked on the looting that took place, Mtambo said people that destroyed property were not part of their team.
“We are going to write the police as people of Malawi. This government is playing with Malawians. We sympathise with any damage and condemn any form of damage,” he said.
Some protesters returned to their homes while others remained for a two-day vigil along the Presidential Road between Parliament Building and Bingu International Convention Centre.
In the morning, the High Court in Lilongwe dismissed Attorney General (AG) Kaleleni Kaphale’s application for an injunction against the demonstrations.
In Blantyre, the demonstrations were marred by running battles between the protesters and police.
Malawi Defence Force soldiers calmed the situation after the protesters stoned every police officer in sight, with the law enforcers firing teargas canisters the crowd.
For the first time since HRDC started organising the protests in June 2019, UTM president Saulos Chilima took part in the demonstrations in Blantyre.
Chilima trashed the AG’s application asking the courts to stop the demonstrations.
“The attempts to stop the peaceful demonstrations are childish. The court has said it and we should not hear anyone saying ‘don’t demonstrate’,” he said.
Malawi Congress Party vice-president Sidik Mia hailed the protesters for, again, coming out in large numbers every time there are demonstrations in Blantyre.
“This is a national struggle and we will not relent until the Mec Chairperson steps down,” he said.
In Blantyre, the demonstrations started from Kamuzu Upper Stadium down Masauko Chipembere Highway to the Central Business District.
The protesters then returned using the same route going to Limbe but the soldiers stopped them at Chichiri Shopping Mall Roundabout.
Angry with the decision, some protesters returned using the same route yet again heading to Blantyre, saying they could not end the demonstrations that early.
In Mzuzu, soldiers took over responsibility of providing security after the marchers protested against the presence of police officers with some threatening to assault the law enforcers.
Multitudes of people gathered at Katoto Secondary school Ground and later held a four-hour march to present their petition to Mzuzu City Council (MCC) calling for Ansah’s resignation.
Other soldiers were deployed to man Police Regional Headquarters and Mzuzu Police Station main gates which were locked for over an hour.
HRDC Northern Region Coordinator, Happy Mhango, said people had lost trust in the police, adding that was the reason they did not want their services during demonstrations.
“Malawians have spoken in Mzuzu. We have over a million people participating in the protests. They have still come out despite that they were not aware by this morning that the demonstrations would be on. And we have one message; Jane Ansah must resign,” Mhango said.
MCC Director of Public Works, Frezer Bondwe, received the petition. It appears the protests did not take place in other Northern Region districts.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said they were still assessing the damage.
“I am still on the ground monitoring the situation. However, a statement would be issued later,” Kadadzera said.
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