Three days after Police sanctioned own investigations following allegations of torture, rape, defilement and theft by some officers at Nsundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika, calls are getting louder for the Inspector General of Police to take more action and allow an independent inquiry on the matter.
Youth and Society (Yas) has penned the Inspector General, stressing the importance of an independent investigation into the alleged acts of torture, rape, defilement and theft against police officers who were on October 9, 2019 deployed at Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika areas in Lilongwe District.
In the letter, Yas Executive Director, Charles Kajoloweka, said the current police investigations team does not inspire confidence.
Malawi Police Service (MPS) on Thursday announced that it has instituted an inquiry team lead by Commissioner Aurene Baluwa, who will investigate the matter in a transparent and independent manner.
But Kajoloweka argues that experience has shown that police headed investigations are instituted
to cover-up issues and shield officers from facing the law.
He cited a rape case involving a police officer who raped a girl in Dowa District, and the murder of Buleya Lule as some of the recent police cover-up investigations hence casting doubt on fairness and objectivity of the internal investigation headed by Commissioner Baluwa.
“We strongly doubt the credibility and impartiality of the internal investigation instituted by the Police. Experience shows that such approaches are merely cover-ups to shield officers from facing the law,” Kajoloweka said in the letter, titled ‘Demand letter on acts of torture and sexual violence in Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu by Police officers’.
Yas suggests in the letter that Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), civil society or the Ministry of Justice could be better placed to handle the investigations.
He also asked the Inspector General to immediately send on forced leave all officers that were deployed during the operation pending independent and impartial investigations.
“We are appalled to see the Police which is constitutionally mandated to provide safety and security, turning itself into a gang of rapists and defilers in the name of enforcing law and order. These are crimes against humanity. Without necessarily appealing to prejudice, we suspect that these incidents are but a mere tip of countless heinous crimes committed by police officers in and outside police detention centre. This calls for radical reproach and punitive measures.”
Homeland Security Minister, Nicholas Dausi, said his ministry would not wish to comment on the matter as it is operational in nature, adding that it is already being handled by the Malawi Police Service.
“This is an operation issue, I cannot comment on it, police should,” he said.
National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, said they have received the Yas letter and would respond to them formally.
While insisting they would proceed with their inquiry, Kadadzera, refused to comment on some of the issues raised in the letter.
“We have received the letter and we will respond to Mr Kajoloweka formally and we will not take time,” he said.
NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) were the first to call for an investigation into allegations that some police
officers allegedly took advantage of the fracas to sexually abuse women and girls of Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika in Lilongwe.
MHRC, through its Executive Secretary David Nungu, has already written the Police IG, informing him that it has commissioned separate investigations into the alleged abuses committed by the law enforcers.
The police and residents of Msundwe and neighboring areas clashed as the locals blocked the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road to stop Democratic Progressive Party supporters from attending a ceremony where President Peter Mutharika was launching a US Government funded project to construct 250 secondary schools.
One police officer, Usumani Imedi, was killed and the police arrested 43 people and out of this figure 39 have been granted court bail.
Meanwhile, Livingstonia synod of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has backed Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) calls for Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Chairperson Jane Ansah to resign; arguing her ‘clinging’ to position is accelerating violence in the country.
The synod’s moderator, Reverend Douglas Chipofya has said the current political impasse which has caused havoc in many areas is connected to Ansah’s failure to resign.
“Continuing to stay on as chairperson is accelerating gravity of problems because as you have seen, public and private property is being destroyed. Personal property is no longer safe and people are living in fear,” Chipofya said.
The synod’s General Secretary, Reverend Levi Nyondo agreed with Chipofya, saying Malawians are no longer secured.
“We are very disappointed with how Malawians are suffering in their own country. People are being attacked, harassed and their property burnt. We are asking government to ensure the police are serving Malawians and not harassing people. We want security and not the current worsening insecurity,” Nyondo said.
In a statement signed by EAM Chairperson Reverend Chatha Msangambe and general secretary Francis Mkandawire, EAM says Ansah’s continued holding on to her position is creating unnecessary tension and lawlessness.
Ansah declined to commecnt when contacted.
Malawians have been staging protests since the outcome of May 21 Tripartite Elections, saying Ansah should step down for allegedly failing to manage the polls.