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Rot in Police prosecution

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By Faith Kadzanja

A Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) enquiry into the defilement of a 14-year-old girl in Blantyre has found that prosecutor Sub-Inspector Ishmael Abubas of Limbe Police Station allegedly altered the details of the case, a development that might have resulted into its dismissal.

MHRC instituted the investigation following media reports about the alleged crime and the state-funded rights body established that the girl was indeed defiled. A Pakistani national 56-year-old Hanif Muhammad was arrested in connection with the crime which is said to have committed on March 15 this year in the commercial city. Addressing the press in Lilongwe yesterday, MHRC commissioner Bertha Sefu said the girl was defiled around 7 o’clock in the evening after she was offered a lift by the suspect on her way home.

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The report further states that Abubas took over the case and allegedly altered the charge sheet.

“He changed the survivor’s age from 14 years to 25 years. On 18th March 2020, the prosecutor paraded a bogus witness at Dalton Magistrate Court in Limbe, under his Worship Martin Chipofya who upon the evidence provided, discharged the case.

“The survivor did not appear in court physically but the case was represented by one Cecilia under the guise of Mary Phiri as the victim,” reads part of the MHRC report.

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Sefu has since called for a reinstitution of investigations into the matter.

“The prosecution should reinstitute the case, by bringing the survivor, the one who actually suffered the assault to court. Pursuant to its statutory functions of protecting the rights of vulnerable groups such as children, the commission intends to join the litigation of the case as amicus curiae,” Sefu said.

MHRC has since called on the Malawi Police Service to finalise its investigations into the matter regarding the alteration of evidence and the exchange of the complaint and take appropriate action on the matter. The institution also says the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) should investigate this case, particularly on the issue of money which was given to the victim.

“The ACB should investigate the prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent Singano, any police and court officers involved in this matter to establish whether they received any form of gratification in order to ensure the case favours the accused,” Sefu added.

MHRC has also stated that the Director of Public Prosecution should ensure this matter is prosecuted in a timely manner. Meanwhile, ACB has arrested Muhammad who is alleged to have conspired with Cecilia Kananji, Esther Kalanda and Ismael Abubas to withdraw the defilement case registered as Criminal Case Number 204 of 2020 with Hanif as the accused. ACB Principal Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala, in a statement released yesterday, said the bureau’s investigations established that Muhammad who was answering a defilement case prosecuted by Abubas conspired with the prosecutor and other two women to withdraw the case by giving out money to the victim through the two women.

Ndala said on August 7, 2020, ACB arrested Muhammad before picking Kananji, Kalanda and Abubas a few days later. The four, who were taken to court on Tuesday where they were granted bail, are expected to be charged with conspiracy to defeat the course of justice and aiding and abetting perjury, according to ACB.

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