By Moses Nyirenda
The recent three released Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) reports have backed the Malawi Police Services on how they handled Msundwe case which among others led to the death of one police officer, Superintended Usumani Imedi on October 8, 2019.
The other report also hailed the police on how they carried out their operations during the fracas which led to the loss of business and property through fire, looting and physical destruction at Msundwe, M’bwatalika, Kadziyo and Mpingu areas during the incident on October 8, 2019.
However, another report revealed that 17 females including children below the age of 18 were sexually assaulted by police officers in revenge for the death of a fellow police officer at Msundwe area.
Speaking during a presentation of the reports on Wednesday at MHRC offices in Lilongwe, Human Rights Commissioner, Martha Chizuma said that police officers failed to carry out their operations competently due to inadequate equipment among other things.
“The two teams comprising 10 police officers went to Msundwe area following the protest in the early hours of 8th October and the police officers were outnumbered during the remonstration due to huge number of protesters.
“Due to some tactical errors by police themselves including lack of protective gears and the state of environment which was at Msundwe area during the protests, caused the death of the police officer and destruction of property at the area,” Chizuma said.
In the reports it is indicated that every person is entitled to the right to economic activity, hence the conduct of violent protesters violated the right which the general public who were conducting business in trading centers at Msundwe and surrounding areas were supposed to enjoy during the day of the protests following Section 29 of the country’s Constitution.
The Commissioner, through the reports recommended the Malawi Police Service to carry out the investigations regarding the incidents which happened at Msundwe and surrounding areas.
“Malawi Police Service must investigate the property loss and destruction including the fire that burnt some merchandise and property at Msundwe, Kadziyo and Mpingu areas, the protesters who destroyed peoples’ property should compensate the victims,” she said.
On the sexual assault of the women and young girls, another Human Rights Commissioner, Rosemary Kumitsonyo Kanyuka ordered that the Inspector General of Police should institute criminal investigations into the matter.
She said that, the investigation should specifically target police officers that were deployed at M’bwatalika and Mpingu during the day of the incident whose teams were led by Superintendent Kantchowa, Msukwa and Inspector Chipofya.
Through the reports, she also ordered that there should be reconciliation between police and the people of Msundwe, Kadziyo, M’bwatalika and Mpingu areas.