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Minister wants independent investigator in Msundwe case

Police yet to arrest Msundwe rape culprits

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Richard Chimwendo Banda

Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda has called for an independent body to investigate police in Msundwe sexual assault allegations as government is complying with the High Court orders.

The High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda on August 13 ordered, among others, the compensation for the sexual assault victims, the establishment of Police Complaints Commission, submission of the occurrence book to court and that the police investigate the case and submit a report to court within 30 days.

Chimwendo Banda said, so far, government is complying with the court orders, but there is a need for an independent body to continue with investigations.

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“We have complied fully with the court ruling. The Police Complaints Commission has been established we are just waiting to fund it. On compensation we are only waiting for the assessment.

“Police has also submitted the occurrence book to Court. However it is complicated because we cannot just arrests all the police officers that went to the area. The report does not mention names. Even the Malawi Human Right Commission report did not mention names and the police cannot investigate themselves so we need an independent body to investigate the rape issue,” he said.

The Minister said the Attorney General and Police legal team sought clarification from the court on the occurrence book because none of the reports have mentioned names.

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The Court ordered the police to compensate 18 women who are believed to have been sexually assaulted by law enforcers at Mpingu and M’bwatalika on the outskirts of Lilongwe in October last year as well as to arrest the implicated officers.

National Police Spokesperson, James Kadadzera, Wednesday said they submitted all required documents to the court on August 24.

Kadadzera could, however, not indicate whether any police officer has been arrested on the matter.

But we observed Wednesday that some of the officers implicated in the incident were still going about their normal work despite that the court ordered that they should be arrested.

“All I can say is that we submitted all the necessary documents as demanded by the court,” Kadadzera said, adding that he could not be drawn to comment on the contents of the report.

Women Lawyers Association President, Tadala Chinkwezule, whose institution represented the abused women and girls in court to demand justice, confirmed that her organisation was furnished with the report.

Chinkwezule also confirmed that the court has set a date for the hearing of the issue of compensation, but stated that she could not disclose that information due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Apart from seeking compensation for the women and arrests of the concerned officers, the assaulted women and girls also wanted a review of alleged failure by Inspector General (IG) of Police to ensure that officers discharge their duties without violating the law.

The victims also asked the court to allow a review on the failure by the IG to conduct effective professional investigations into the complaints of sexual assault and rape, among other decisions and actions.

The alleged rape, defilement and sexually assault of the women and took place on the night of October 8 2019 when police staged an operation in the areas following the stoning to death of a fellow officer, Usumani Imedi, who was deployed in Msundwe to calm the situation after protests erupted in the area to express displeasure over then president Peter Mutharika’s decision to hold a political rally in Lilongwe.

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