National

Malawi burns in spate of violence

At least 7 people die in mob justice

Hastings Chigalu

At least seven people have been killed in the country while property and infrastructure worth millions of kwacha have been destroyed in acts of violence in the past 10 days, a trend which has left Malawians gripped in fear.

The most recent incident that resulted into death took place in Ntcheu when a mob set ablaze two suspected armed robbers. According to Ntcheu Police Public Relations Officer, Hastings Chigalu, the two were caught trying to rob a shop near Biriwiri Border Post which Malawi shares with Mozambique.

“While in the act, the owner of the shop noticed something strange that forced him to wake up and shout for help. Villagers managed to catch both suspects but, instead of handing them over to police, the mob resorted to burning the suspects alive,” he said.

Police have identified the two as Yohane Philimon and John Alick, both from Traditional Authority Njolomole in Ntcheu.

While the mob was burning suspected robbers in Ntcheu, irate students of Thyolo Secondary School torched the school’s infrastructure including classroom blocks, staff houses, kitchen, hostels and administration block.

The students, according to one of them, started destroying the property in protest against what they call “corruption involving the school’s administration.”

The students alleged that the school’s authorities are unfairly dismissing bona-fide students who were selected to study at the school and replacing them with other learners who were not selected to the school.

“What made us to react was the suspension of four of our colleagues for petty reasons and immediately [after suspending the four], they [school administrators] brought three students,” the student said.

The Daily Times could not speak to the school’s Head teacher Isaac Longwe as he was locked in a meeting with the school’s administration and Shire Highlands Education Division officials.

The school has since been closed and all students sent home. It becomes the second secondary school to be closed in similar circumstances in two weeks after Blantyre Secondary School was also closed last week after violence.

Thyolo Police spokesperson, Amos Tione, said the police had arrested four students in connection with the fracas.

Pyschologist Edson Mughogho has described the recent wave of violence as a sign of social anger which, he warns, might degenerate into chaos if not addressed in time.

“What happens is that sometimes people have problems ranging from economic to social in general; so this anger might come out through undesirable ways such as violence. Something has to be done,” he said.

On Tuesday in Nkhata Bay, four people were left dead in a fierce fight between Msakanene and Mkondezi Village in the districts while 22 houses were burnt down.

This took place a week after residents of Msundwe had been involved in running battles with the police which left a police officer Usumani Imedi dead. In what is perceived as retaliation, police officers are said to have sexually assaulted women and girls in Msundwe.

Police have since said they are investigating the issues surrounding the acts of violence.

Since the May 21 elections, Malawi has been in a state of tension and has registered an increase in cases of violence.

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