Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has accused the police of allegedly applying selective justice in the arrest of former member of Parliament and gender activist Jessie Kabwila.
HRDC Vice-Chairperson, Gift Trapence, said the police should have made a swift arrest of some law enforcers who were accused of raping, defiling and sexually assaulting women and girls at M’bwatalika, Msundwe and Mpingu in Lilongwe in October last year.
“What we would like to see is an application of holistic approach to justice. If we see how the police have rushed to arrest Kabwila, one really wonders if they are being serious,”he said.
National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, Sunday said they arrested Kabwila for allegedly inciting public disorder and threatening Judicial officers in one of her utterances during demonstrations held on Friday in Lilongwe. HRDC organised the protests against the alleged abuse of the women in Lilongwe.
“We suspect that through her utterances, she threatened Judges currently sitting in the election case [at the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe]. Our Judicial officers should not be threatened or put under duress while discharging their duties,” he said.
Kadadzera said Kabwila was under police custody and will appear in court once she provides her statement on the matter.
In a clip that has gone viral on social media, Kabwila, during one of the speeches she made during the demonstrations, is alleged to have said they will not allow anyone to tamper with the Constitution of Malawi as well as assault women sexually.
She also alleged that Malawi would be on fire if Judges handle inappropriately the election case that currently awaits judgment.
“M’nalakwalira azimayi athu koma chilungamo chikubwera. Kwangotsala masiku ochepa pamalawi pano panunkha mphira wina akaperekanso chigamulo chachibwana chifukwa ifeyo sitilola. [You insulted our women but justice will take its course .This country will be on fire if someone decides to give a wrong judgement because we will not give in].”
UTM Public Secretary, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said the party was waiting to see the charge sheet and the basis for the arrest of Kabwila.
“We are still assessing to see whether it is politically motivated or not. We want to see the charge sheet and see what happens. Our members have been there to see to give her moral support,” he said.
During the demonstrations, police officers also arrested 20 people for allegedly causing malicious damage and assaulting a police officer while on duty.
Kabwila was also arrested in 2016 alongside Malawi Congress Party Member of Parliament, Ulemu Msungama, over a treason charge after they were accused of exchanging WhatsApp messages meant to demean the leadership of President Peter Mutharika.
The High court in Blantyre dismissed the treason case against her and Msungama.