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Msundwe new probe delays

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Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)’s investigation into allegations of rape in Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika has delayed because the commission is yet to put together a team of investigators to do the work.

IPCC had earlier indicated that it would on October 1 start investigating claims that some police officers sexually abused at least 17 women after an officer, Usumani Imedi, got killed in violent protests against then-president Peter Mutharika.

Imedi was among a team of law enforcers who went to Msundwe to quell the protests by people who blocked the main road to stop Democratic Progressive Party supporters from travelling to Mutharika’s first rally in the city since the disputed May 2019 presidential election.

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In an interview Wednesday, IPCC Director Christopher Tukula indicated that it would not be possible to start the probe as earlier planned without investigators who are central to the exercise.

“We are recruiting the investigators outside the police; so they had other commitments and they had different dates on which they could join us. We need at least two female investigators and, so far, we only have one,” Tukula said.

He could not come up with a specific date the investigation would start but indicated that it would commence in two weeks or thereabout.

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Tukula also said, being a new office, IPCC needed more money to procure vehicles and furniture and employ more investigators before the actual enquiry commences.

He said IPCC did not have a special budget for the Msundwe case but would tap from their annual budgetary allocation for the 2021-22 financial year to see how much can be dedicated to the 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 and spread the remaining [funds to other areas],” the IPCC chief said.

In an earlier statement, Malawi Police Service said they decided to leave the investigation in the hands of IPCC due to concerns of bias if they were to remain part of the enquiry.

Meanwhile, Malawi Human Rights Commission spokesperson Kate Kujaliwa has said the commission—which has been particularly interested in the case— trusts the process and that, at the end of the day, there will be a credible investigation.

“We are going with what the IG [Inspector General] of Police said and the memorandum of understanding we have with the police. We are just waiting for the IPCC to conduct the investigation and if they say they are putting up a team of investigators, then we cannot be in a position to discredit them,” Kujaliwa said.

A civil part of the Msundwe case was settled with a judgement by Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda, who ordered that the government should compensate the victims.

The court awarded the women a sum of K130 million.

Meanwhile, the State wants a review of the K255 million that Women Lawyers Association (WLA), whose members represented the sexual abuse victims, was awarded as legal costs in the case.

The review case was supposed to go for oral hearing of the State’s submissions yesterday.

But Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said the matter was adjourned to a later date.

He said WLA had asked for more time to file their written responses to the State’s case.

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