Police, vendors clash in Mzuzu
There were ugly scenes at the police regional headquarters in Mzuzu on Wednesday when a group of angry vendors stormed the offices to demand bail for their arrested counterparts.
The eight were arrested Sunday morning and Tuesday night, respectively, in connection with the arson at Mzuzu City Council (MCC) offices as well as attack on the house of MCC Mayor Councillor William Mkandawire last month.
During the protests, the vendors wondered why their detained counterparts were not granted bail or taken to court, saying this is a violation of the vendors’ rights.
Efforts by law enforcers to reason with the irate traders proved futile, forcing police to throw teargas canisters to disperse the group which insisted on holding a vigil within the police premises.
Northern Region Police spokesperson, Peter Kalaya, said the law enforcers were handling the suspects in tandem with the law, adding that the vendors cannot pressure them into making hasty decisions.
“Their demands lack a basis because we are following all the necessary procedures on the matter and this is why you notice that we were busy with all the paperwork before we sent them to Mzuzu Prison, on remand, pending court proceedings,” Kalaya said.
Few days after last month’s chaos, Vendors Association of Mzuzu vice-chairperson distanced the vendors from the arson and the attack on the mayor and thus asked police to bring to book those involved.
But Kalaya stressed that there was a likelihood that the vendors who are in custody were behind the two incidents.
Apparently, the eight suspects were brought to court on Thursday when, through lawyer Moses Chakwantha, they applied for bail.
Chakwantha argued that his six clients deserved bail because the State had failed to provide evidence against them. This was after State prosecutor Betty Sambo had asked for seven more days for police to conclude their investigations.
“The State is not sure that the suspects committed the offence. This is unfair as my clients are being kept in prison cells without any evidence and, as such, they need to be granted bail because they are innocent,” Chakwantha told the court.
Responding to the application for bail, Senior Resident Magistrate Brian Sambo adjourned the matter to Tuesday, October 17 2017.
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