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Police accused of double standards

Michael Kaiyatsa

Charles Kajoloweka

By Wezzie Gausi:

Civil society organisations (CSO) have questioned the conduct of Malawi Police Service (MPS) officers.

The CSOs, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Youth and Society (Yas), have raised the concerns in a letter to MPS Inspector General George Kainja.

In a press statement, the two organisations say they are not impressed with the treatment of suspects.

CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa told The Daily Times that there have been cases where MPS agents have treated suspects differently and “yet everyone is equal before the law”.

“For example, when the news media reported about the smuggling of the Loan Authorisation Bill into Parliament, police quietly arrested presidential adviser Pastor Martin Thom and a senior official from the Ministry of Finance Nations Msowoya. After the arrest, the public soon learnt that Thom immediately got bail and flew out of the country. According to media reports, the pastor was released within three hours of being arrested.

“In contrast, activist Sylvester Namiwa was violently arrested when he led a peaceful vigil at Parliament to demand an explanation on how the Bill was smuggled into Parliament and was shuffled from one police station to another and kept in police custody for 48 hours before he was given bail. Similar treatment was also accorded to other criminal suspects, especially those linked to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, such as former presidential bodyguard Norman Chisale,” Kaiyatsa said.

Yas Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka corroborated Kaiyatsa’s sentiments.

In the letter, Kajoloweka demands that MPS expedite cases that have stalled for years.

“In addition to the issues presented, we would wish to understand why some cases are delaying despite your pledge to expedite them. The cases include the case of Justin Phiri, who died in September 2019 in police custody in Mzuzu and the case of Issa Njaunju, who was found brutally murdered on the night of July 2 2015,” Kajoloweka says in the letter.

Upon taking over the position of IG, Kainja pledged to make police professional when discharging duties.

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