Almost two years after police officer Usuman Imedi was stoned to death in Msundwe in Lilongwe, there is no movement on the case of his murder even after suspects were arrested in 2019.
Amid protests related to the May 2019 elections, on October 8, 2019, Superintendent Imedi led a team of 20 police officers who were assigned to restore peace and order at Msundwe Trading Centre where some people were blocking users of the Mchinji-Lilongwe road.
According to reports, the people were blocking the road to bar those travelling to a function by former president Peter Mutharika at Kawale in Lilongwe.
In the pandemonium, the mob stoned Superintendent Usumani to death.
In the aftermath, 44 people were arrested, 40 of which were charged with endangering safety of people on the road while four were charged with the murder of the police officer.
Today, almost two years on, there is no movement on any of the two cases.
Central Region Police spokesperson Alfred Chimthere said on Friday that he needed time to meet investigators to trace the files on Usumani.
“As it stands, I cannot comment any further until the investigator tells me how far they have gone with the case,” he said.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera also said there has not been much progress on the case.
He could not comment any further.
As for the 40 others, their lawyer, Sylvester Ayuba James, said he was frustrated with failure by the police to make progress on the case.
“There has been no movement on the files since they were granted bail. It’s now close to two years; so we are making an application for them to be discharged from the obligation this week so that they can be free people,” James said.
Executive Director for Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Michael Kaiyatsa said the delay on the two cases reflects badly on the Malawi Police Service and the entire criminal justice system.
“It is sad that Usumani’s family is being made to wait for justice as prosecutors are failing to make swift decisions in the case. Justice delayed is justice denied,” Kaiyatsa said.
He added that there is need for the Inspector General of Police to report to Malawians on steps being taken to conclude the matter.
“When the Police IG assumed office in July 2020, he promised Malawians that he would run a Police Service without political considerations.
“There is, therefore, a need for police authorities to clear any suspicions of political bias by making sure that the suspects are brought to justice without further delays,” he added.
The killing of Usumani is seen as having triggered the alleged sexual offences against 18 women and girls said to have been perpetrated by the police in Mpingu and M’bwatalika in the area.
It is said the police committed the sexual offences in reaction to the murder of their colleague in the service.
The civil part of the Msundwe Rape Case, as it is often known, has been concluded, resulting in the awarding of K121.5 million in monetary compensation to the victims.
However, it has also caused controversy following the awarding of K255 million to lawyers who represented the women in the case reportedly on pro-bono terms.
Up to now, no police officer has been identified as having committed the sexual abuses. This has led to a new investigation aimed at identifying specific suspects.