The Malawi Police Service (MPS) and local and international organisations have agreed to jointly conduct a fresh investigation into alleged rape and sexual abuses in Lilongwe’s Msundwe area, The Daily Times has established.
Eighteen months ago, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) released an investigative report which revealed that police officers raped 13 women, defiled one girl and sexually assaulted three under-18 girls on October 8 2019. It cited Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu as areas where the abuses occurred.
However, MPS, MHRC, Women Lawyers Association (WLA) and the United Nations Development Programme have agreed to institute a fresh probe into the matter.
The fresh probe comes over three months after the High Court ordered Capital Hill to pay the 12 women and six minors a combined K121.5 million in compensation.
The proposed fresh probe has cast a big shadow of doubt on whether the women would get the court-ordered compensation.
MPS spokesperson James Kadadzera Wednesday said Inspector General of Police George Kainja and the stakeholders would address the media on the matter this afternoon.
WLA President Immaculate Maluza Wednesday said her organisation would comment on the matter at today’s scheduled briefing.
On March 9 this year, High Court Assistant Registrar Madalitso Khoswe Chimwaza ordered the government to compensate the 18 women and minors within 90 days.
Among other things, the court ordered that nine women be compensated with K6.5 million each while three get K4.5 million each. The court further ordered that one minor gets K10 million, another two get K8.5 million and the remaining three minors get K7.5 million each.
In her judgement, Chimwaza said the money should be paid to the court for onward distribution to the victims, who shall be required to produce relevant identification materials.
On August 13 last year, High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda ordered MPS to compensate the 18 women and arrest the 17 police officers implicated in the matter.
In his ruling, Nyirenda said the applicants were victims of sexual violence and rape, ordering that they be compensated for the heinous acts allegedly suffered at the hands of law enforcers.
Nyirenda also blamed the office of the IG for failing to put in place a credible system of monitoring the conduct of the officers, ordering the IG to report to the court on steps taken to investigate and arrest the perpetrators of sexual violence.
The case followed the conduct of about 17 police officers who allegedly raped 13 women, defiled one girl and sexually assaulted three under-18 girls during an operation on October 8 2019 at M’bwatalika, Mpingo and Msundwe in Lilongwe.
The operation followed the death of police officer Usumani Imedi, who was stoned to death by angry people in Msundwe Township as they protested against then-president Peter Mutharika’s planned political rally in the area.
In March this year, the Ministry of Homeland Security instructed MPS not to appeal on the compensation matter to ensure that justice done to the victimised women.
Secretary for Homeland Security Patricia Liabuba said the ministry would facilitate a smooth compensation of the victims in line with the court order.