Is it selective justice?


Apart from a half-baked statement from the Ministry of Gender, there has been no solid word of condemnation from the Government of Malawi on the crime against the women of Msundwe who were raped by police officers.

The police officers took advantage of the fracas that ensued in Lilongwe recently to sexually harass the women and girls of Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika by stripping them naked and fondling their private parts while wearing masks to hide their identities.

According to the victims, visibly and audibly traumatised as The Daily Times interviewed them, the police told them they were doing what they did in retaliation after the death of police officer Usumani Imedi who was killed in protests at Msundwe.


The policeman died at the hands of protesters who blocked the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road at Msundwe, claiming they did not want President Peter Mutharika to address a rally at Kawale in Lilongwe because it is the stronghold of Malawi Congress Party after he launched a United States-funded project to build 250 secondary schools in the country.

Investigations by the independent NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) also confirm that police officers sexually abused the women and the girls at Msundwe, Mpingu and Mbwatalika.

NGO-GCN chairperson Barbara Banda expressed disappointment at the revelation and has since asked Mutharika to order an investigation and see to it that all culprits are brought to book.


Meanwhile the Police have instituted an inquiry team into the alleged defilement, rape, torture and theft against police officers in question.

The press release signed by Police Public Relations Officer, James Kadadzera, says an enquiry team which is headed by Commissioner of Police in the Eastern Region Arlene Baluwa, comprises of different professionals who will investigate the matter in a transparent and independent manner and that based on evidence, all suspects identified will be treated according to the laws of the land without favour.

The press release appeals to members of the general public, who have reliable information on the matter at hand, to cooperate and share the information with the enquiry team so that it conducts a thorough, speedy and factual investigation and that the nation will be updated on the progress and results of the investigation within the shortest period.

What we have here is a crime against the poor women and girls of Msundwe who are also illiterate and had nothing to do with the killing of the police officer.

Their only crime is that they are from the same place from where the murder took place.

This is a crime that has nothing to do with the investigation police needed to undertake to find the murderers of their colleague.

What we are seeing here is not just criminality but also impunity so rampant in this government that has reared its head again, only that this time it has knocked on a wrong door.

This is yet another bad chapter, in fact, a worse chapter, in the poor relationship between the police and the public.

It is an injustice of the greatest order to violate the inner sanctity of the woman, any woman, and it does not matter whether that woman is poor, illiterate and defenceless as were the Msundwe victims.

Police have instituted an enquiry into the matter but there is a problem here.

This is a sham investigation as the police cannot investigate themselves.

The press release talking of this investigation is from the Public Relations Department and signed by Public Relations Officer James Kadadzera.

This means the police and indeed the whole establishment is treating this matter as a public relations one that cannot even attract the attention of the office of the acting Inspector General (IG), Duncan Mwapasa.

The acting IG or even the Minister of Homeland Security, Nicholas Dausi or his deputy, have not addressed a press conference to own up to the problem and assure the angry nation that there will be no cover-up and that those found guilty will be punished.

Dausi told The Sunday Times that this is a mere operational matter in which he cannot come down from his pedestal to get involved.

The only word we have heard from the Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Thom Navicha, was neither one of condemnation nor seeking justice for the victims.

Neither was there a word of promise of help for the raped women and girls nor of promise for a visit.

There has been no word from the State House on the way forward and, indeed, from First Lady Gertrude Mutharika as well as noisy gender activist such as Seodi White.

But an example was set in West Africa where a BBC investigation unearthed a ‘sex for grades’ culture in universities in Nigeria and Ghana between some lecturers and female students.

Leaders there that include Nigerian president Muhammed Buhari and his wife Aisha condemned the practice and called for an official investigation to put a stop to it.

That is what is called leadership and anything falling short of it would be a cover-up meant to punish the poor women of Msundwe because they come from an area that does not seem to like Democratic Progressive Party.

The victims revealed to The Daily Times and NGO-GCN that the police told them they were doing what they did in retaliation after the death of Imedi.

Clearly Msundwe does not support the blue party of President Mutharika.

My fervent hope is that the lack of a solid word from the IG, ministers of Homeland Security and of Gender, the First Lady and the President himself is not down to the fact that they want to cover up and sweep this matter under the carpet.

That would not only be disastrous but tragic as well.

So many crimes committed in this country, against those the establishment deems anti-DPP, have been committed but they have gone unpunished.

This includes the assault of Billy Mayaya by individuals deemed sympathetic of DPP and it has gone unpunished.

I repeat: I hope, in the name of all that is holy, selective justice will not be at play when dealing with the abuse of women at Msundwe.

Look, probably some of the victims do not even give a damn about politics and have no clue as to what happened to the dead policeman with their only crime being that they come from Msundwe.

They deserve justice.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that policemen are supposed to protect citizens and when something has gone wrong about them, they cannot investigate themselves

The reaction to this matter at all levels of authority is pathetic and the hope is that it is not a cover up meant to achieve selective justice.

That is patently dangerous as people who think they are not getting justice use illegal means to get it.

The Msundwe women deserve justice against the shameless and cowardly thugs that masqueraded as policemen and sexually assaulted them on that day.

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