Five men have been sentenced to three years in prison for looting in Lilongwe during last year’s protests which Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) organised to push for Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah’s resignation.
Lilongwe Police Deputy Public Relations Officer, Foster Benjamin, said the convicts come from Msundwe and M’bwatalika areas under Traditional Authority Njewa, Lilongwe.
The five include Matiasi Donald, aged 52, Henry Kazembe, 24, John Banda, 27, Hopeson Kankhulungo, 21, and Justin Kamuloni, 24, were convicted on Friday.
The court, through State prosecutor, John Kamphani, learnt that the convicts joined a group of demonstrators on October 1 2019 in Lilongwe.
“When they got to Bwandiro, the five left the group and hit some shops and a saloon at Area 15. They went away with saloon accessories, a genset, chairs, among other items, worth K23 million,” Benjamin said.
The police netted the five with their loot and charged them with breaking into a building and committing a felony therein.
“They denied the charge before the court, forcing the State to parade six witnesses. They were found guilty as charged. The State prayed to the court to mete out harsh sentences to the five accused arguing some of the items were not recovered; hence, a loss of business to the owners,” Benjamin said.
Passing sentence, First Grade Magistrate, Diana Mangwana, observed that looters dent the noble cause of demonstration
HRDC Vice- Chairperson, Gift Trapence, said he needed more time before commenting on the matter.
Eight people were also arrested in the recent demonstrations for causing malicious damage and insulting a police officer while on duty.
HRDC has been organising demonstrations to force Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, to resign arguing the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections were marred by irregularities.
The recent demonstrations were held to force Malawi Police Service to act on its officers who alleged assaulted women sexually in surrounding areas of Msundwe.