Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) — Karonga Chapter — has organised demonstrations for justice surrounding the death of Justin Phiri who died in post-Anti- Jane Ansah demonstrations in September this year in the district.
The protests are scheduled for Wednesday to Friday next week from Rukuru Roadblock to Karonga Roundabout which would proceed to district commissioner (DC)’s office to demand justice.
HRDC Chairperson for Karonga Chapter Walusako Munde said Thursday they cannot sit back and watch when police are purportedly perpetrating injustice.
Munde claimed that there are a lot of injustices that happened during the Anti-Jane Ansah demonstrations in the district which, among others, led to the death of Phiri who died in police hands in Mzuzu.
“It’s a special tribute to Justin Phiri and we are calling upon all residents of Karonga to come in numbers so that we respect our foreign hero. We were unable to go to Mzimba, as per culture, if one of us passes on, we need to go and bid farewell. This is the only time we are going to say Justin, your spirit is with us,” he said.
Twenty-nine-year-old Phiri was one of the 18 people who were whipped, sprayed water on and drenched by Malawi Defence Force soldiers for allegedly attacking the soldiers.
Post-mortem results done by a private pathologist Professor George Liomba indicated that Phiri died due to assault and untreated wounds among others.
Meanwhile, the bereaved family is demanding K150 million from the government in compensation for the death of their child.
The three-day Karonga demonstrations are also aimed at forcing the law enforcers to release a public address (PA) system vehicle which was confiscated during the September I8 demonstrations.
“Innocent citizens were arrested and locked up in Mzuzu, then dumped to walk on foot to Karonga and one of them Justine Phiri died while in police custody. And on top of all the torturing, these citizens are being denied police services. Also PA system and a Hyundai 1.5-tonne pick-up were confiscated. Justice should prevail on all these cases,” reads in part the letter addressed to DC for Karonga with a copy to the officer-in-charge for Karonga Police Station.
Karonga Police Station deputy spokesperson Frank Black refused to comment saying Northern Region deputy publicist Maurice Chapola was better placed to respond.
But Chapola was not available.
At a press briefing held recently in Lilongwe, HRDC announced that its next wave of Anti-Jane Ansah demonstrations would be convened in Mzuzu City on dates to be communicated.
Hot on the heels of Phiri’s death is alleged police misconduct at Msundwe and other surrounding areas in Lilongwe over suspected sexual and gender-based violence to women and girls.
The alleged misconduct has since attracted condemnations from various stakeholders who are calling for investigations to find out facts of the matter.
Since Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) declared President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party winner of May 21 Tripartite Elections, tension has been hovering around the country, with some quarters disputing results of the elections.
HRDC has been organising nationwide protests demanding the resignation of Mec Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah for allegedly running a fraudulent election.