By Serah Chilora & Chimwemwe Mangazi:
A year after residents and police clashed Bvumbwe Trading Centre in Thyolo District over the death of two people, there was another fracas on Thursday night when residents set alight Bvumbwe Police Unit following the death of a resident, whom the law enforcers had arrested.
In December 2020, police and civilians also engaged in running battles at the trading centre as community members allegedly sought to avenge the shooting of two of their colleagues by a police officer following a brawl at a beer drinking joint.
The running battles lasted for over an hour before a reinforcement from Limbe Police Station moved in to restore order.
For the Thursday night clash, Malawi News visited the area Friday and established that the deceased, who was yet to be identified, had been arrested on Wednesday night for allegedly breaking Covid-19 regulations.
Thomas Chimkwende and Julio Chuma, residents of the area, described the deceased as a fairly old man who used to conduct business at Bvumbwe Market.
They claimed that the police were wrong because the deceased was a peaceful and calm person.
“He was such an old man…he used to sell Manyonezi [boiled Irish potato with tomato soup]; we are so sure he would not have caused havoc in any way. We have heard that he was arrested during the night but what we know is that Rogue and Vagabond Law was abolished.
“We have heard that he was severely beaten while in custody, which resulted into his death the next day. We do not want this Police around this place because they do not know how to work…all they do is break the law in the name of policing,” Chuma said.
However, South West Police Division spokesperson, Ramsey Mshani, dismissed allegations that the deceased was beaten while in custody, leading to his death.
“It is true that a police unit was razed down. On Wednesday in the night, the police were doing their usual patrols and some people were found on the wrong side of the law. And on Thursday, we took them to Midima First Grade Magistrate Court to open cases for them.
“However, while we there, one man collapsed and we rushed him to the hospital and the hospital attendants confirmed that he had died. The people from the area where this man came from did not take the news well and a fracas ensued,” Mshani said.
Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda and Inspector General of Police George Kainja visited Bvumbwe Friday to appreciate the matter.
Chimwendo Banda has since cautioned people from the area against taking the law into their hands.