The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will start investigating reports of Malawi Police Service (MPS) officers’ alleged rape of women in Msundwe, Mpingu and Mbwatalika on October 1 this year.
The women, all from Lilongwe, already took civil action against MPS agents and got court-ordered compensation this year.
However, IPCC Chairperson Chris Tukula has disclosed that the investigation is facing a huge financial gap.
Tukula said, being a new office, they needed money for buying cars, furniture and employing more investigators before the actual investigation commences.
“Before we took the Msundwe case, we had a makeshift investigations department which had two investigators only. Now we want to employ four more investigators so that two can be doing other routine investigations and the other four can focus on the Msundwe case.
“One interesting thing is that, out of the two we had, there was no woman. Now we need to balance the team, in terms of gender sensitivities, because we are dealing with a sexual offence and we cannot have a male investigator asking the women questions to do with sexual harassment,” he said.
Tukula said IPCC did not have a special budget for the Msundwe case but would tap into its annual budgetary allocation for the 2021-22 financial year to see how much could be dedicated to the Msundwe probe.
“Our total budgetary allocation is K328 million, including salaries. Out of that, K210 million is for Other Recurrent Transactions and, from that, we need to have the office running,” he said.
Tukula said, since the establishment of the commission, they had received 99 complaints but were handling 14, mostly those involving people that died or suffered injury at the hands of MPS agents.
He, however, said the commission was engaged in talks with organisations that have expressed willingness to support the commission in Msundwe investigations one way or the other as funds from the government were not enough.
“We need to have up to 30 people but, for this year, we will recruit 15 while 10 will come on secondment from government departments and agencies. We cannot employ all of them at once because that will mean a big wage bill on us; so, it’s better they come on secondment and, if anything, we just top up on what they are already getting,” he said.
Malawi Human Rights Commission spokesperson Kate Kujaliwa said the commission would play an oversight role in the investigation.
“We are not funding the investigation but we are one of the stakeholders who will be proving technical support and oversight,” she said.
MPS, in an earlier statement, said it decided to leave the investigation in the hands of IPCC due to fears of bias.
Some women from Lilongwe alleged that police officers, who went there to maintain law and order during the time of demonstrations, raped them.
Women Lawyers Association represented the women pro-bono and they were compensated.