THE CHASOWA COMMISSION OF REPORT

TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS …………………………………………………………………………………………………… vii
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. viii
LIST OF APPENDICES ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ix
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
1.1 Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12
1.2 Terms of Reference ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12
1.3 Composition of the Commission ………………………………………………………………………………. 13
1.4 Support Staff ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 14
1.5 Structure of the Report ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 14
1.6 Procedure Adopted …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15
1.7 Challenges …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16
CHAPTER TWO …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 17
FACTUAL BACKGROUND ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17
2.1 The identity of Robert Chasowa ……………………………………………………………………………….. 17
2.2 Events prior to the death of Robert Chasowa ……………………………………………………………… 18
2.2.1 20th July demonstrations…………………………………………………………………………………… 18
2.2.2 Plans to prevent the 17th August demonstrations …………………………………………………. 19
2.2.3 Robert wanted by the Police …………………………………………………………………………….. 24
2.2.4 The night of Robert’s death ……………………………………………………………………………… 27
2.2.5 Discovery of the body ……………………………………………………………………………………… 28
2.2.6 Date and time of death …………………………………………………………………………………….. 31
2.2.7 Cause of death and results of post-mortem examination ………………………………………. 31
CHAPTER THREE ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 34
CONDUCT AND EFFICIENCY OF THE MALAWI POLYTECHNIC ADMINISTRATION ……… 34
3.1 Management response to the incident ……………………………………………………………………….. 34
3.2 Lack of security ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 34
3.3 Gates and security lighting ………………………………………………………………………………………. 37
3.4 Discovery of the alleged suicide notes ………………………………………………………………………. 37
3.5 Discovery of the phone in the room ………………………………………………………………………….. 38
CHAPTER FOUR ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 39
CONDUCT, EFFICIENCY AND PROFICIENCY OF THE MALAWI POLICE SERVICE IN HANDLING AND CONCLUDING THE INVESTIGATION SURROUNDING THE DEATH ……. 39
iv
4.1 Management of the scene of incident ………………………………………………………………………… 39
4.2 Guards on duty on the night of 23rd September …………………………………………………………… 39
4.3 Post-mortem examination ………………………………………………………………………………………… 41
4.4 Press Statement ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 41
4.5 The suicide theory ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 42
4.6 Further investigations ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 44
CHAPTER FIVE …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 46
THE POLITICAL DIMENSION ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 46
5.1 Robert’s involvement in youth organisations ……………………………………………………………… 46
5.2 Attempts to meet with the then State President …………………………………………………………… 47
5.3 Interaction with the Police ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 48
5.4 YFD publications……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 49
5.5 The wider political dimension ………………………………………………………………………………….. 50
CHAPTER SIX ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 58
FINDINGS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 58
(a) The identity of Robert Chasowa ……………………………………………………………………………….. 58
(b) Friends and Associates ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 58
(c) Political activism ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 59
(d) Interaction with politicians ………………………………………………………………………………………. 59
(e) Interaction with the Police ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 60
(f) Date and time of death …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 61
(g) Exact place of death………………………………………………………………………………………………… 62
(h) Cause and nature of death ………………………………………………………………………………………… 62
(i) Results of post-mortem examination …………………………………………………………………………. 62
(j) Alleged suicide notes ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 62
(k) Conduct of the Polytechnic Administration ……………………………………………………………….. 63
(l) Conduct of the Police ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 65
(m) Conduct of politicians……………………………………………………………………………………………… 68
(n) Circumstances of death ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 70
(o) Identity of possible suspects …………………………………………………………………………………….. 70
CHAPTER SEVEN ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 72
RECOMMENDATIONS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 72
1. Malawi Police Service …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 72
2. The Malawi Polytechnic Administration ……………………………………………………………………. 73
3. Political parties and politicians …………………………………………………………………………………. 74
v
20th September, 2012 Ref. No. RC/ 16 Her Excellency the State President, Mrs. Joyce Banda, New State House, Lilongwe. Your Excellency, COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH OF THE LATE ROBERT CHASOWA On 13th April, 2012, it pleased Your Excellency to issue a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into all aspects surrounding the death of the Late Robert Chasowa who was a student of the Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent College of the University of Malawi. Your Excellency was further pleased to appoint us Commissioners to undertake the inquiry and to report our findings and recommendations to you. We now have the honour to present to Your Excellency, the Report. Yours respectfully, Justice of Appeal Andrew K. Chotcha Nyirenda, SC CHAIRMAN ROBERT CHASOWA COMMISSION OF INQUIRY , PRIVATE BAG 250, LILONGWE , MALAWI. Tel: 0111 738 725 Email:chasowainquiry@gmail.com Correspondence should be addressed to: The Chairperson
vi
…………………………………………………. Honourable Justice of Appeal Isaac Jamu Mtambo, SC (Retired) Member …………………………………………………. Professor Ndalama George Liomba Member ………………………………………………… Mrs. Sophie Kalimba Member …………………………………………………. Mr. Paul Maulidi Member ………………………………………………… Mrs. Mary Mangwiza Manyusa Member
vii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We, the Commissioners wish to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the State President, Her Excellency Mrs Joyce Banda, for the great honour in appointing us to the Commission of Inquiry into the death of the Late Robert Chasowa and for the trust reposed in us to undertake the task. The Commissioners acknowledge, with appreciation, the financial and administrative support from the Government of Malawi, through the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance. The Commissioners would like to thank the Chief Executive of Blantyre City Council for allowing us to use the Council premises for the most part of the Commission’s sessions. The Commissioners would like to express their indebtedness to all those people who spared their time to come and testify before the Commission. The Commissioners would like to convey their gratitude to the support staff of the Commission who worked diligently behind the scenes. The Commissioners would like to thank the Secretary for the Commission, Mrs. Annabel Mtalimanja, for well and ably managing the entire process of the Commission. In the course of the inquiry the Commission was saddled with two sad events. Commissioner Mr. Paul Maulidi lost his wife. Soon thereafter Superintendent George Mnjale, who was the Commission’s lead investigator, also lost his wife. The Commissioners and the entire support staff were deeply shocked at these developments. The Commissioners and the entire support staff convey their most profound and hearty condolence to the family of Commissioner Maulidi and the family of Superintendent George Mnjale.
viii
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
C.C.A.P Church of Central Africa Presbyterian C.I.D Criminal Investigations Department COM College of Medicine CSO Civil Society Organisation CU Catholic University DPP Democratic Progressive Party IG Inspector General IPI Institute of Policy Initiative MPS Malawi Police Service MRA Malawi Revenue Authority NPL Nation Publications Limited NVYO New Vision Youth Organisation PSU Polytechnic Students Union RCIO Regional Criminal Investigations Officer SDA Seventh Day Adventist Church SFGS Security Force Guard Services SRPH Southern Region Police Headquarters TA Traditional Authority UCIO Urban Criminal Investigations Officer UNIMA University of Malawi YFD Youth for Freedom and Democracy ZDB Zero Deficit Budget
ix
LIST OF APPENDICES
Annex 1 : Rules and Procedures adopted the Commission Annex 2 : List of witnesses interviewed by the Commission Annex 3 : Documents for the hiring of motor vehicle registration Number MN 2452 from Country Wide Car Hire Annex 4 : Record of Duncan Phiri’s mobile phone (0992 222 277) transactions of 18th August, 2011 Annex 5 : Record of Lillian White’s mobile phone (0995 426 458) transactions of 23rd September, 2011 Annex 6 : Record of Allan Chipwere’s mobile phone (0999 028 279) transactions of 24th September, 2011 Annex 7 : Alleged suicide note to the father Annex 8 : Poem entitled “Life is a Mystery” Annex 9 : Post-mortem examination preliminary Report Annex 10 : Final Post-mortem examination Report Annex 11 : Press Statement from the Malawi Police Service dated 25th September, 2011 Annex 12 : Handwriting expert opinion Report from the Malawi Police Service Annex 13 : Handwriting expert opinion from the South African Police Service Annex 14 : Copy of the Late Robert Chasowa’s diary entry of 16th June, 2011
Annex 15 : Record of the Late Robert Chasowa’s mobile phone
x
(0999 937 005) transactions of 18th July, 2011 Annex 16 : Copy of the Late Robert Chasowa’s diary entry of 12th August, 2011 Annex 17 : Copies of YFD Weekly Political Update Volumes 3A to 6A Annex 18 : Copies of bank statements for Mr. Mike Chitenje’s Bank account with FDH Bank
1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Introduction On the morning of 24th September, 2011, a male student by the name of Robert Chasowa was found dead on the campus of the Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent College of the University of Malawi. The cause of death and the circumstances surrounding the death were mysterious. On 13th April, 2012, Her Excellency the State President, Mrs. Joyce Banda, issued a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into all aspects surrounding the death. Terms of Reference The broad Terms of Reference of the Commission were to establish the identity of Robert Chasowa, his social and political activities, the time and place of his death, the cause of death and to determine all other circumstances surrounding his death; to inquire into the conduct and the manner in which the Malawi Police Service handled the investigation of the death; to establish the identity of possible suspects complicit in the circumstances surrounding the death of Robert Chasowa and to make findings and relevant recommendations. Factual background The identity of Robert Chasowa Robert Ishmael Chasowa, as were his full names, was born on 20th March, 1986. His parents, Austin Kings Chasowa and Chrissie Rebecca Chasowa and the rest of the siblings live at Kameza Township in Blantyre. Robert was the third born of six children of the family. At the time of his death Robert was a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student at the Malawi Polytechnic. He was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. According to his family and most of his friends, Robert was a very friendly person and was very close to his family. Robert was the only child who went to University in his family.
2
Events prior to the death of Robert Chasowa 20th July 2011 demonstrations On the 20th July 2011 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) staged demonstrations against government. A few days after the demonstrations the CSO leaders announced that there would be other demonstrations on 17th August, 2011. Plans to prevent the 17th August demonstrations After the 20th July demonstrations, Robert and his associates, Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone and Justice Kangulu, “the group”, met to review the impact of the demonstrations on the country, in particular the youth. They thought the youth suffered most injuries and deaths while the CSO leaders, who remained in the background, were mostly spared. It was also their assessment that there was massive destruction of property resulting into further hardship to the economy and that further demonstrations would cause the country to spiral into anarchy. The group then conceived a plan to work with the Police to prevent the demonstrations that were scheduled for 17th August. On 5th August, 2011 Duncan Phiri contacted the former Inspector General, Mr. Peter Mukhito to present to him the plan to prevent the scheduled demonstrations. The group met Mr. Mukhito at the National Police Headquarters on 7th August and presented the plans. Mr. Mukhito was persuaded and he immediately made some payment to the group for their initial activities including hiring a vehicle for them. The plan was to reach out to Civil Society leaders responsible for organizing the demonstrations to persuade them to cancel the demonstrations and also students in colleges to persuade them to speak against the demonstrations. The plans soon fell through because the group was failing to persuade the people they approached. The Police became aware of that fact and cancelled the engagement on 13th August 2011. According to the Police, they approached the Civil Society leaders themselves and persuaded them to cancel the demonstrations.
The group felt they had assisted in some way in getting the demonstrations cancelled. They called Mr. Mukhito for the money they had been promised, which according to Duncan Phiri, was K10 million. The Police denied promising the group K10 million but accepted that the group would have been
3
paid something if their plans had worked. Nothing was paid because the group had failed. According to Duncan, after several calls to Mr. Mukhito the group gave up and they disbanded. Duncan said Robert was unhappy and felt they had been used. Robert wanted by the Police After the group disbanded Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone noticed that Robert was working with Alex Black Moses who was distributing publications entitled “Youth for Freedom and Democracy: A weekly Political Update”. These publications were critical of the Government and its leadership. The Commission established that although Robert interacted with the group to prevent the 17th August demonstrations, he had long been working with Alex Black Moses against the Government which he perceived was corrupt and being run by hypocrites. Commissioner Jose of the Southern Region Police Headquarters told the Commission that on 19th September, 2011, he received a call from the former Presidential Guard Commander, Mr. Mwapasa that he had been contacted by Mr. Cedrick Nankhumwa, a DPP functionary, that a certain person was distributing publications which were critical of the then Head of State and the Government. Later in the day, Mr. Nankhumwa came to Mr. Jose’s office with Mr. Bester Saopa. They introduced themselves as DPP functionaries and confirmed to Commissioner Jose that Alex Black Moses was indeed distributing such publications. Commissioner Jose immediately instructed Police investigators to hunt for Alex Black Moses. Around 9 pm of the same day the investigators reported to him that Alex Black Moses had been arrested and he had implicated Robert Chasowa. Commissioner Jose gave further instructions to the investigators to go and look for Robert at the Polytechnic. The investigators indeed approached the Administration at the Polytechnic on the 21st September, 2011 asking for Robert and the matter eventually got to Robert himself.
4
Robert wanted by politicians While Government was making efforts to manage the difficult situation the country was going through in 2011, DPP functionaries on their part were working to silence the critics. The Commission was told by a DPP functionary that after the 20th July demonstrations there were several meetings at the Blantyre District DPP office. At one of the meetings there were misunderstandings which led to a fight. In the course of the fight a well known youth cadet was heard saying “he was going to reveal everything because the people were being childish”. The witness later inquired from the cadet what he meant by what he said. He was told that the cadet had been attending meetings planning to silence (“kumpwhetsa”) Robert Chasowa, who was causing problems at the Polytechnic. The cadet also told the witness that he was involved in torching Rafik Hajat’s Office and Balaka Market. The Commission was informed by another DPP functionary that at another meeting there was again a fight. Another well known DPP cadet was heard saying “muona zimene anawona Chasowa” (you will be dealt with the way Chasowa was). These words were being directed at someone among the functionaries. According to the witness, he later learnt of the death of Robert Chasowa. The night of Robert’s death The Polytechnic Administration advised Robert to talk to his lawyer and hand himself to the Police. On 23rd September, 2011 Robert met his lawyer, Mr. Trouble Kalua, in the evening and they agreed that Robert would hand himself to the Police the following day.
When he returned from meeting his lawyer, Robert spent most of the night of the 23rd-24th September in Ndagha Mkandawire’s room. Ndagha is a female student at the Polytechnic who was in the same class with Robert and his very close friend. According to Ndagha, while in her room Robert was writing something which he did not want her to read. Allan Chipwere, Robert’s roommate, spoke to Robert at 00.30 am on 24th September while he was in Ndagha’s room. Ndagha said Robert put the papers in an envelope. He left the envelope in her room when he was leaving. According to Ndagha, Robert left her room at 03.33 am. The Commission established from Ndagha’s own
5
testimony that she had drunk excessively this night. Her recollection of some of the events of this night must have been impaired. Discovery of the body Around 03.40 am on 24th September, a guard on duty discovered a body of a male person behind the Administration Block at the Polytechnic. The Polytechnic Administration was notified, came and identified the body as that of Robert Chasowa, a 4th year student. The matter was reported to the Police who came to the scene and found the body as was. It was lying face down on rough concrete slabs. It was in a pair of three-quarter camouflage shorts, a T-shirt and a scumber, with a slipper on one foot. The other slipper was a short distance away. The T-shirt was well tucked in the shorts. The head lay in a localised pool of blood. There were no splashes of blood around the area. The face was covered in blood. There was a transverse cut wound on the back part of the head. There was dust and grass on both of his knees. There were no other obvious body injuries. The body was removed by the Police to College of Medicine mortuary where the Police requested for post-mortem examination. The Commission made three visits to the scene of incident with some of the relevant witnesses and, among other things, took measurements on the scene. The Commission observed that the body was lying on 4cm thick rough concrete slabs. The feet were 1.2m away from a pillar which supports a corridor that is 7m above. The head spot was at a diagonal of 7.65m from the top of the corridor wall. There was no grass or dust on the site where the body was discovered. Ndagha told the Polytechnic Administration that Robert had left letters in her room. The letters were collected and one was addressed to his father. This letter was handed to the Police and when it was opened they found what is alleged to be a suicide note.
Post-mortem examination was conducted by Dr. Charles Dzamalala, a Pathologist, on the same day. After the post-mortem examination the Police gave Dr. Dzamalala the alleged suicide note. Dr. Dzamalala was immediately curious and he expressed his concern to Mr. Chirambo the Assistant Registrar
6
of the Polytechnic. The Pathologist made a Preliminary Report on the cause of death and told the Police that the final report would be ready within a week. Date and time of death The information available to the Commission shows that Robert was alive at 00.30 am on 24th September, 2011, from the phone conversation with Allan Chipwere, his roommate, while Robert was in Ndagha Mkandawire’s room. The information also shows that Robert’s body was discovered around 03.40 am and was confirmed dead by Mrs. Madulila, a nurse at the Polytechnic, at about 05.00 am. The exact time of death could not be established by post-mortem examination because of the refrigeration of the body which interferes with the normal changes that occur after death which are used to estimate the time of death. Cause of death and results of post-mortem examination According to the Post-mortem examination Report and a further examination of the photographs taken during the process, Robert died from injuries as a result of being assaulted three times with a blunt object to the skull, causing fractures of several skull bones leading to bleeding inside the skull and brain. Circumstances of Robert’s death Robert was wanted by the Police on account of the Youth for Freedom and Democracy publication which had been intercepted by the DPP functionaries. The DPP functionaries themselves were concerned about Robert’s activities. The Commission was told that there were plans to silence Robert.
The Commission heard from several people who strongly believe that Robert was abducted from campus at the Polytechnic. It was said he was taken away, assaulted to death and his body brought where it was found. The Commission was given the names of persons suspected to have been involved in the murder as the actual assailants or as accomplices. The Commission was also told that Robert’s movements on campus were being monitored by some individuals who were on campus. The Commission was informed that the Polytechnic is heavily
7
politicised. One witness described it as “savage politics.” The Commission observed that there was ample opportunity, at the time, for bringing the body from outside to where it was found owing to laxity in security at the Polytechnic. Conduct, efficiency and proficiency of the Malawi Police Service in handling and concluding the investigation surrounding the death The Commission observed that the Police did not preserve the scene of the incident. They did not take any measurements, draw around the body to preserve the original position it was found in and did not take fingerprints around the area. They did not check for marks of violence. They did not invite a medical examiner to the scene before moving the body. The Police docket shows that statements were recorded from two guards and this was only done two weeks later in October 2011.The Police should have immediately interviewed all the guards that were on duty the night of 23rd – 24th September, 2011, especially the guard who was at the entrance of the hostel where Ndagha resided and Robert was last seen alive and the two guards who were deployed at the area where Robert’s body was found. The Commission traced almost all the guards who were on duty that night but the three guards at the critical places mentioned above have not been found. Press Statement On the evening of 24th September, 2011 the IG called the then National Police Press and Public Relations Officer, Senior Assistant Commissioner Willie Mwaluka and accused him of not “feeding” the nation with sufficient information about the death of Robert Chasowa.
On 25th September, Senior Assistant Commissioner Mwaluka travelled to Blantyre. In Blantyre he met the officers who were handling the matter and he was given the Preliminary post-mortem examination Report and the alleged suicide note. He proceeded to draft a Press Statement. He then called the IG and read the draft Press Statement to him. According to Senior Assistant Commissioner Mwaluka, this was to seek the IG’s approval of the Statement before it could be released, which was a requirement. The IG gave approval for
8
the Statement to be released as was. The Statement was released in the afternoon of the same day on both television and radio. It was also taken to the print media houses on the same day and started appearing in the print media the following day. The most relevant paragraph from the Statement states: “With this evidence adduced, it is evident that Robert Chasowa had already planned to commit suicide. It is also evident in this regard that the deceased jumped from the upstairs corridor that resulted to sustaining of head injuries”. The suicide theory The Commission was reliably informed that the first officers on the scene had suspected “foul play”. It was only in the Press Statement that this matter was conclusively said to be a case of suicide. The Commission observed that this was before the final results of the post-mortem examination were released by the Pathologist and before the authorship of the alleged suicide note was confirmed by a handwriting expert. The Statement closed the chapter on the matter. After the Statement, on 26th September, 2011 the main investigator in the matter, Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja, closed the file. Upon hearing the Press Statement, Dr. Dzamalala was prompted to react because he had not yet issued the final post-mortem examination results and yet the Statement implied that a final post-mortem examination report had been issued. The final Post-mortem examination Report was only made on 4th October, 2011. It was collected by the Police on 5th October, 2011. On 6th October, 2011 the Police were compelled to re-open the investigations. The Commission established that to date the investigations in the matter have not been concluded. Findings and Recommendations The Commission made fairly extensive findings and recommendations based on the testimony of witnesses and the evidence gathered. The findings and recommendations are based on and follow the path of the evidence that has just been outlined. Only a few of the findings and recommendations are outlined here without in any way relegating the rest.
9
Findings
(a)The identity of Robert Chasowa
Robert Chasowa was the third born child of Mr. Austin Kings Chasowa and Mrs. Rebecca Chrissie Chasowa. He was born on 20th March, 1986 in Blantyre. He was a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student at the Malawi Polytechnic.
(b)Interaction with the Police
The Commission finds that after the events of 20th July, 2011, Robert and his associates were engaged by the Police to prevent demonstrations scheduled for 17th August, 2011. The Police had promised the group some money on successful completion of the assignment. The group was not successful and the arrangement was terminated. The Police did not pay the group any money. The group disbanded but Robert felt used. The Commission finds that Robert had also been involved with Alex Black Moses in the publication and distribution of the Youth for Freedom and Democracy Weekly Political Update. On 19th September, 2011 Robert became a wanted person by the Police on instructions from DPP functionaries.
(c) The political dimension
The Commission finds that while Robert was being sought by the Police, politicians were also making plans to silence him.
(d)Date and time of death
The Commission has not been able to establish the exact time of death. The Commission finds that Robert was alive as at 00.30am on 24th September, 2011 and was confirmed dead around 5.00am.
(e) Results of post-mortem examination
The Commission finds, based on the Post-mortem examination Report and photographs, that Robert was assaulted to the head at least three times resulting into bleeding inside the skull and brain.
10
(f) Suicide theory
The Commission finds that the theory of suicide is not supported by any evidence whatsoever other than the mere presence of the alleged suicide note. To the contrary, from all the attendant circumstances and the evidence obtained by the Commission, Robert was killed.
(g)Conduct of the Police
The Commission finds that the Police acted most unprofessionally at the scene of incident as a result of which useful evidence was lost. Subsequently the Police gave the Pathologist unsolicited information in the form of the alleged suicide note after the post-mortem examination. The Commission finds this to have been a deliberate attempt to influence the decision of the Pathologist to perpetuate the suicide theory. The Commission finds that the Press Statement, which was issued on the instructions and with the approval of the IG, was intended to and did close the matter. The matter was only reopened as a result of the reaction by the Pathologist drawing public attention to the misinformation in the Press Statement. The Commission finds that the manner in which the Police handled the whole case was inherently unprofessional and reprehensible. The deliberate attempt to conceal the truth is cause for serious concern.
(h)Circumstances of death
The Commission summarises the circumstances of Robert’s death in this way. Robert was captured in the early hours of 24th September, 2011, after leaving Ndagha’s room, on his way to his hostel. He was led away to where he was assaulted. He died as a result of the injuries sustained from the assault. His body was brought to the Polytechnic and dumped at the site where it was later discovered. Recommendations
(a)Malawi Police Service
In the conduct of its duty the Malawi Police Service is expected to live up to the dictates of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and as
11
provided for under the Police Act. Primary is the fact that the Malawi Police Service is an independent organ of the executive. In the exercise of duty towards the protection of the rights of the public the Police must therefore conduct itself with independence and impartiality. The Police must not be used in furtherance of any political agenda. The Police must investigate every matter that is reported to them. The investigations must be conducted and finalised in a professional and timely manner. The Police should continue and complete the investigations on Robert Chasowa’s death as a case of homicide. In view of the time that has lapsed since Robert’s death, the investigations must be done with speed and completed as soon as possible. If the investigation establishes that any person is responsible for causing the death of Robert Chasowa, such person(s) must be prosecuted within a reasonable time.
(b)Political parties and politicians
Political parties, politicians or individuals should not use the Malawi Police Service in the exercise of its functions, powers and duties to further their political agenda or to undermine those of others. They should not use the Malawi Police Service as a tool for intimidating, silencing or eliminating political opponents.
12
CHAPTER ONE
1.1 Introduction
On the morning of 24th September, 2011, a male student by the name of Robert Chasowa was found dead on the campus of the Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent College of the University of Malawi (UNIMA). The cause of death and the circumstances surrounding the death were mysterious. Conflicting reports were issued by the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the Pathologist who conducted a post-mortem examination on the body. Her Excellency the State President, Mrs. Joyce Banda, issued a Commission of Inquiry (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) into the matter.
1.2 Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference of the Commission were:
1. To inquire and report to the President of the Republic of Malawi, all aspects surrounding the death of the late Robert Chasowa former Fourth Year Student of the Polytechnic, University of Malawi, who was found dead at the Polytechnic campus in Blantyre, on or about 24th September, 2011. The inquiry shall include but not limited to the following:-
(a) establish the identity of Robert Chasowa, his interaction with politicians, his political activism, his interaction with the Malawi Police Service, and other associates; (b) establish the date of death and the exact place where death occurred; (c) establish the circumstances of the death of the deceased person; (d) establish the cause and nature of the death; (e) the conduct, efficiency and proficiency of the Malawi Police Service in handling and concluding the investigations surrounding the death; (f) the results of the post-mortem examinations or autopsy of the deceased’s remains;
13
(g) the establishment of the identities of possible suspects, if any, complicit in the circumstances surrounding the death of Robert Chasowa, and cover-up, if any, of the death; (h) produce a written report on the findings with recommendations; and (i) submit the written report to the President of the Republic of Malawi. 2. The Commission of Inquiry may also make such inquiry, and make such findings and recommendations as are incidental to and connected with the death of the late Robert Chasowa, before, during and after his death. 3. The Commissioners shall conduct the inquiry and make a report of their findings within two (2) months after the commencement of the inquiry. The issue of the Commission was dated 13th April, 2012. Owing to circumstances without the control of the Commission, it was not possible to start working earlier than 15th May, 2012. Although some of the Commissioners were sworn in on 20th April, 2012, one Commissioner who was outside the country was sworn in on 9th May, 2012. The issue of the Commission was gazetted on 11th May, 2012. After the Commission started its work, one Commissioner Mr. Ben Mbewe, was replaced by Honourable Justice of Appeal Isaac Jamu Mtambo, SC (Retired). He was sworn in on 4th June, 2012. The proceedings of the Commission were also slightly delayed because of budgetary procedures at the end of the 2011/2012 financial year.
1.3 Composition of the Commission
The Commission was composed of the following: Honourable Justice of Appeal Andrew K. Chotcha Nyirenda, SC (Chairperson) Honourable Justice of Appeal Isaac Jamu Mtambo, SC (Retired) (Member) Professor Ndalama George Liomba (Member)
14
Mrs. Sophie Kalimba (Member) Mr. Paul Maulidi (Member) Mrs. Mary Mangwiza Manyusa (Member) Mrs. Annabel Mtalimanja (Secretary)
1.4 Support Staff
The Commission was supported by the following staff: Mrs. Venesia Mononga (Stenographer) Mrs. Martha Gondwe (Stenographer) Mr. Austin Kamanga (Interpreter) Ms. Vanessa Phiri (Personal Secretary) Ms. Luwiza Chinkhandwe (Accountant) Superintendent George Mnjale Superintendent Gerald Chiwanda Sub/Inspector George Mangani Sub/Inspector Nyson Chibondo Sub/Inspector Kassim Killi Mr. Rudo Chimbalawala Mr. Steve Taulo
1.5 Structure of the Report
This Report contains the findings and recommendations of the Commission. Chapter Two of the Report presents the factual background of the matter. It summarises the testimony of the witnesses. Chapter Three presents the conduct and efficiency of the Malawi Polytechnic Administration in relation to the matter. It summarises how the Polytechnic Administration handled the incident before and after Robert Chasowa’s death and the security situation at the
15
Polytechnic campus. Chapter Four is on the conduct, efficiency and proficiency of the Malawi Police Service in handling the death and concluding the investigations surrounding the death. It is a summary of Police activities following the death of Robert Chasowa, the manner in which the Police handled the scene of incident, the post-mortem examination, how the suicide theory was mooted and the making of the Press Statement. The chapter also presents the current status of the matter. Chapter Five looks at the political events during the period preceding Robert Chasowa’s death and what bearing they have on the same. Chapter Six presents the findings. Chapter Seven sets out the recommendations of the Commission. In order for matters to be put in perspective it was inevitable that some facts and issues in one chapter would be repeated in another chapter.
1.6 Procedure Adopted
In the conduct and management of the proceedings before it the Commission adopted the procedures laid down in the Commissions of Inquiry Act, (Cap. 18:01) of the Laws of Malawi, and those obtaining in the High Court of Malawi. An outline of the Rules and Procedures adopted by the Commission is attached as Annex 1. We will briefly set out how the Commission conducted and managed proceedings before it. The Commission issued a Press Statement in various media inviting any member of the public who had any knowledge or information of the incident to appear and testify before it. The Commission heard evidence in camera from 94 witnesses which was duly recorded and has been transcribed into a Verbatim Report. The list of witnesses is attached as Annex 2. The Commission obtained both direct and hearsay evidence. The Commission decided to receive hearsay evidence because in the nature of inquiries such evidence generally assists to establish substantive evidence. As it turned out the Commission was indeed immensely assisted in tracing vital witnesses on account of the hearsay evidence.
The Commission searched for and obtained documents and photographs relevant to the inquiry. These are referred to and annexed later in the Report where applicable.
16
The Commission also visited and inspected the scene of the incident together with relevant witnesses. The Commission met at various venues. It met at the Civic Centre in Blantyre and at Golden Peacock Sogecoa Hotel in Lilongwe for hearings. It also met at Nkopola Lodge in Mangochi and at Livingstonia Beach Hotel in Salima for analysis and report writing.
1.7 Challenges
The major challenge that the Commission faced was to trace witnesses. Only three witnesses responded to the press statement and appeared before the Commission voluntarily. The rest had to be summoned after being identified by the Commission. As will be discussed later in this Report, four critical witnesses that the Commission wanted to interview have not been traced. One witness, a police officer who is on assignment outside the country, was not made available.
17
CHAPTER TWO
FACTUAL BACKGROUND
The factual background herein presented is based on the testimony as obtained from the witnesses. It is also based on the evidence obtained by the Commission itself when it visited the scene of the incident and on material collected following searches in various places of interest.
2.1 The identity of Robert Chasowa
Robert Chasowa (hereinafter called “Robert”) was born at Chitawira Private Hospital in Blantyre on 20th March, 1986. His full names were Robert Ishmael Chasowa. His father, Austin Kings Chasowa, comes from Chembe village, T/A Msakambewa in Dowa. His mother, Rebecca Chrissie Chasowa comes from Kachere Village, T/A Maganga in Salima. The family lives at Kameza Township in Blantyre. Robert was the third born of six children of the family. The first born in the family, Kingsley Chasowa, was killed in 2007 at Kameza in Blantyre. Robert was brought up in Blantyre. He went to Namalimwe and Mlambalala Primary Schools. At that time he was living with his grandparents. Later he went to Njamba Secondary School and then to Chileka Private Secondary School. During that time he had gone back to live with his parents. It is from Chileka Private Secondary School that he was selected to go to the Malawi Polytechnic in 2008 to study Mechanical Engineering. At the time of his death Robert was in the second semester of the 4th year. According to his parents, Robert was brought up with christian values. Initially he was a member of the Central Africa Presbyterian Church (C.C.A.P) but while at Chileka Private Secondary School he joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church (S.D.A). He became a Deacon in that Church. Whilst at the Polytechnic, Robert also worshipped at the Fountain of Victory Ministry where he was a member of the Christian Gang, a youth fellowship group.
His hobbies included playing football, drama, reading and writing poetry. He played football from his early childhood days. At the Polytechnic he became captain of the Polytechnic Football Team.
18
According to his family and most of his friends, Robert was a friendly and amiable person. He was courageous and ambitious. It was also said that Robert always aspired for leadership among his peers. He was charming and loving. He was described as being passionate about things he was involved in. Some of his friends however, described him as being temperamental. According to his father, Robert was very close to his family and they shared moments together. Robert was the only child who went to University and according to his uncle, they were looking up to him. At Kameza, Robert’s friends were Fred Dickson, Darlington Miseleni and Justice Kangulu. At the Polytechnic, Robert’s friends were Ndagha Mkandawire, Lydia Jere, Innocent Sulani and Allan Chipwere. The Commission learnt that he was very close to Ndagha Mkandawire. Robert associated with Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone, and Alex Black Moses. At the time of his death Robert’s girlfriend was Lillian White.
2.2 Events prior to the death of Robert Chasowa
2.2.1 20th July demonstrations
In 2010 and 2011 this country was going through political, social and economic challenges. These translated into various forms of reaction from different sections of our society. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) resorted to ultimatums against government which eventually led to the 20th July, 2011 demonstrations and events that followed1
1 These events are documented in the Report of the Findings and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Demonstrations, Deaths, Injuries, Riots, Looting, Arson, Public Disorder and Loss of Property that Took Place on 20th and 21st July, 2011 . According to Alex Black Moses, Robert participated in the 20th July demonstrations in the company of other students from the Polytechnic. However, Bright Mhango, who was leader of the Polytechnic group of students that took part in the demonstrations, doubted Robert’s participation. The Commission was informed by Mr. Simbarashe Mungoshi, a lecturer at the Polytechnic, that Robert was part of the students that had been involved in the stoning of vehicles carrying panga wielding Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth cadets on 19th July, 2011 when they were driving along Chipembere Highway past the Polytechnic campus.
19
A few days after the 20th July demonstrations the CSO leaders announced that there would be other demonstrations on 17th August, 2011.
2.2.2 Plans to prevent the 17th August demonstrations
Prior to the 20th July demonstrations, Robert and his associates, Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone and Justice Kangulu, later referred to as “the group”, had been working on a plan to enhance youth involvement in development. They were to do this by working with the government in the areas of reorganising the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), tracing tax evasion by traders, raising financial support for the Zero Deficit Budget (ZDB), promoting utilization of the green belt concept and reviewing the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme. The Commission was told the group contemplated meeting the then State President, His Excellency the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika to present to him their proposal. This matter is discussed in detail in Chapter Five where Robert’s political activism is discussed. After the 20th July demonstrations the group met again to review the impact of the demonstrations on the country, in particular the youth. In their assessment, the youth were placed in the forefront of the demonstrations and had borne the brunt of the effects. The youth suffered most injuries and deaths while the CSO leaders, who remained in the background, were mostly spared. It was also in their assessment that there was massive destruction of property resulting into further hardship to the economy. At that point the focus of the group shifted to working with the government to stop further demonstrations which they had learnt were scheduled for 17th August, 2011. They became more concerned when they learnt that Government was preparing to confront the demonstrators during those demonstrations which would have meant more violence, loss of life and destruction of property. They feared the country would spiral into anarchy.
The group then conceived a plan to work with the Police, a Government department which would be directly involved in handling the demonstrations. On 5th August, 2011 Duncan Phiri contacted the former Inspector General, Mr. Peter Mavuto Mukhito (hereinafter referred to as the IG) to present to him the plan the group had to prevent the scheduled demonstrations. In turn, on the evening of 6th August, 2011 the IG instructed the Commissioner for the
20
Southern Region Police Headquarters (SRPH) Mr. Rodney Steven Jose to contact Duncan Phiri. Commissioner Jose was to hear the detailed plans of the group and report back to the IG. On the morning of 7th August, 2011 Commissioner Jose met Duncan Phiri who briefed him on the plans. On hearing the plans, Commissioner Jose called the IG and recommended that he, the IG, should meet the group because the SRPH would not be able to meet their demands. It was then agreed that the group should be taken to Lilongwe to meet the IG. Commissioner Jose complied and drove Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone and Robert to Lilongwe. Justice Kangulu, the other member of the group, did not accompany them because he had a family engagement. He was nonetheless aware of the trip. Upon arrival in Lilongwe at the National Police Headquarters, they alerted the IG who directed them to his residence where they met him. Duncan Phiri introduced the group to the IG. Robert was introduced as a student from the Polytechnic. Duncan Phiri briefed the IG of their plans to prevent the scheduled demonstrations by convincing the organisers of the demonstrations, leaders of political parties, CSO leaders and students at UNIMA colleges and Catholic University (CU) not to proceed with the demonstrations. The group informed the IG that they would need financial support, computers, digital cameras, an office and a vehicle. The IG was persuaded. He immediately gave each member of the group K50, 000.00 cash. He instructed Commissioner Jose that upon their return to Blantyre the group should be provided with their immediate needs. According to Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone, the IG promised to pay the group K10 million if they were successful in preventing the demonstrations. The following day Commissioner Jose gave the group K300, 000.00 for office accommodation and for other activities to undertake their plans. He also hired a motor vehicle, a Suziki Jimmy, Registration number MN 2452, from Country Wide Car Hire for them. The documents for the hire of the vehicle are attached as Annex 3. The group proceeded to rent a house in Nkolokosa from Dr. Mathanga for office accommodation and paid K105, 000.00 rent for three months.
The group then began to implement their plan. Robert was assigned to meet students at the Polytechnic and Chancellor College. Justice Kangulu was assigned to meet with students at CU. Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone were
21
assigned to meet with members of the general public. As a group they were to approach politicians and CSO leaders. Justice Kangulu was successful in convincing the leadership of CU who went on Capital Radio to speak against the planned demonstrations. According to Justice Kangulu, six students from CU were paid K2000.00 each. Robert was not successful in convincing students at Chancellor College and the Polytechnic. At Chancellor College the students were more interested in resolving the then ongoing academic freedom issue than the demonstrations. According to Mr. Mungoshi, there was one student who was willing to help and Robert paid him K15, 000.00. At the Polytechnic, Robert found 10 students who were willing to help. He promised them K2 million to be shared amongst them. According to Duncan Phiri, he, accompanied by Phaniso Mhone and Alex Black Moses went to meet Mr. Ken Chitatata Msonda at his office to persuade him that the 17th August demonstrations should be cancelled. Duncan further said that Mr. Msonda demanded K2.5 million if he was to help. Mr. Msonda acknowledged the three met with him on 12th or 13th August, 2011. They said they came to him because the then State President, the IG, the DPP and Government knew him as the person who was at the centre of organising the demonstrations. They also said to him that they had been engaged by the then State President and the Government to speak to the organisers of the demonstrations to cancel the demonstrations. Mr. Msonda demanded proof that they had been sent by the authorities and they showed him the hired vehicle, the Suzuki Jimmy, as evidence. Mr. Msonda said he did not believe them and he told them that in any case he did not have the authority to cancel the demonstrations. He referred them to CSO leaders. He also denied to have made any demands for payment. At that point Mr. Msonda said he left for a meeting of the Organising Committee of the 17th August demonstrations that was taking place at the Institute for Policy Initiative (hereinafter IPI and also later referred to as Rafik Hajat’s Office) offices that afternoon.
Whilst at the meeting at IPI Duncan Phiri, Alex Black Moses and Robert came to meet with Mr. Rafik Hajat as one of the CSO leaders. According to Mr. Msonda, present at that meeting was Mr. Hajat, Mr. Humphrey Mvula, Mr. Ken Williams Mhango and other CSO leaders. When the three arrived they met with Mr. Hajat in the company of Mr. Mhango.
22
They informed Mr. Hajat and Mr. Mhango that they had been sent to persuade the CSO leaders to call off the planned demonstrations and to warn them that their lives were at risk because their names were on a Government hit list for elimination. Mr. Hajat said they gave him the list and he confirmed that his name and that of Mr. Mhango were there. He made a copy of the document. While the group was reaching out to the various stakeholders as undertaken, the Police were asking for an update. Commissioner Jose arranged for a meeting with the group. On 11th August, 2011 Robert and Justice Kangulu met with Commissioner Jose to inform him that they had problems in convincing students at the Polytechnic and Chancellor College but that they had convinced the student leadership of CU. According to Commissioner Jose, on 12th August, 2011 Justice Kangulu brought him minutes alleged to be of a meeting held by the CSOs and a budget requesting for money from Mr. Hajat. Both of these documents were allegedly prepared by Mr. Msonda. The minutes showed that Mr. Msonda was the only person in attendance at the meeting because his name was the only one appearing on the quorum. Commissioner Jose became suspicious and immediately got the impression that the group was being dishonest. He contacted the IG to alert him to this development and faxed to him the minutes as well as the budget. He indicated to the IG that he suspected that the group was playing games with the Police and recommended that the arrangement should be terminated immediately. The IG agreed.
The following day on 13th August, 2011 Commissioner Jose called the entire group to a meeting at what he called “the usual place (Shoprite Car Park at Chichiri Mall)”. Only Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone showed up for the meeting at 8.30 pm. According to Duncan Phiri, when they got to Shoprite Commissioner Jose told them to join him in his vehicle and he drove to a forest past Angelo Goveya where he told them that “zonse zachitika zija zathera pano, ngati n’ndalama mukatenge zimene munalipira nyumba zija” (the arrangement they had had been terminated and for payment they should redeem part of the money paid for rentals). He also asked for the hired vehicle to be returned to the SRPH the following day. Commissioner Jose confirmed calling the group to a meeting that evening and taking Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone to a place
23
past Angelo Goveya where he communicated termination of the arrangement and asked them to return the hired vehicle. The group did not come the following day to return the vehicle as requested. Commissioner Jose called Duncan Phiri who passed the phone to Phaniso Mhone. According to Commissioner Jose, Phaniso Mhone said to him that they were not dealing with him anymore and that they were now dealing with the IG directly. Commissioner Jose then called the IG to confirm this. The IG confirmed and told Commissioner Jose that the group would return the vehicle on Monday. On Monday the four of them went to return the vehicle at the SRPH. The Commission was told that on 13th August, 2011 the IG instructed Mr. Medi, former Service Administration Officer for the Police, to contact Mr. Undule Mwakasungula and Mr. Robert Mkwezalamba to ask them to arrange a meeting between the MPS and CSO leaders to discuss the possibility of cancelling the scheduled 17th August demonstrations. According to the IG, the meetings were successfully held on 14th and 15th August, 2011. On 16th August, 2011 the CSO leaders announced the cancellation of the demonstrations. On hearing the announcement, Duncan Phiri called the IG drawing his attention to the announcement saying their group had been successful in preventing the demonstrations as undertaken. According to Duncan Phiri, on 18th August, 2011 he called the IG to ask for payment of the K10 million and for the equipment which they had been promised for their office after a successful mission. Similar calls were also made by Robert to the IG. According to the IG, he spoke with Robert who used to call him to ask for some payment but not the K10 million. According to Duncan Phiri, during this period they were also communicating with Honourable Peter Mutharika, MP, demanding payment. This is confirmed by Duncan Phiri’s phone records attached as Annex 4. Professor Mutharika denies knowing any one of the group and speaking to any of them.
According to Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone, the IG became hostile and kept referring them to Commissioner Jose. The group then met and decided to leave the matters as they were. According to Duncan Phiri, he observed that Robert was not entirely satisfied with this decision. Robert said what they had done was historical and could not just be left like that. He could not accept that they could just be used and dumped. The group then disbanded.
24
2.2.3 Robert wanted by the Police
After the group disbanded Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone noticed that Robert was working with Alex Black Moses who was distributing publications by Youth for Freedom and Democracy (YFD). In relation to the publications this is what Duncan Phiri told the Commission: “…Black Moses was sourcing the information from Kamlepo Kalua on the dealings inside the DPP party, how they were siphoning money, Mulli etc. Chimunthu Banda seemed to be the informant but it was prepared by politicians (sic)….” The fact that Robert was involved in the publications with Alex Black Moses was confirmed by Mr. Henry Masoka (a fellow student of the Polytechnic) who met Robert distributing Volume 3A of the publications in Blantyre. Mr. Kamlepo Kalua, Alex Black Moses, Bright Mhango (then a student at the Polytechnic), Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone also confirmed that Robert was involved in the publications. Commissioner Jose told the Commission that on 19th September, 2011, he received a call from the former Presidential Guard Commander, Mr. Mwapasa. Mr. Mwapasa told Commissioner Jose that he had been contacted by Mr. Cedrick Nankhumwa that a certain person was distributing publications which were critical of the then Head of State and Government. Commissioner Jose told Mr. Mwapasa to advise Mr. Nankhumwa to meet him at his office. Mr. Nankhumwa came to Commissioner Jose’s office with Mr. Bester Saopa. They introduced themselves as DPP functionaries. Mr. Saopa told Commissioner Jose that whilst at National Bank of Malawi at Chichiri he was personally handed the publication by Alex Black Moses. He said Alex Black Moses could be found at Cassablanca near Chilembwe Lodge or at Ziboliboli stand near Malawi Savings Bank in Blantyre and that he resided in Machinjiri. According to Commissioner Jose, Mr. Saopa said Mr. Mwapasa was already aware of the matter. This was to stress its seriousness and urgency. A copy of the publication was left with Commissioner Jose. Because of the seriousness and urgency of the matter, Commissioner Jose immediately instructed the Urban Criminal Investigation Officer (UCIO), Assistant Superintendent Caroline Jere, to hunt for Alex Black Moses. Around 9 pm of the same day Assistant Superintendent Jere reported to him that Alex Black Moses had been arrested and was in custody at Blantyre Police Station.
25
On 20th September, 2011 Assistant Superintendent Jere reported to Commissioner Jose that Alex Black Moses had admitted that he was involved in distributing the publications and had also implicated Robert Chasowa and 4 others, namely, Phaniso Mhone, Justice Kangulu, Duncan Phiri and John Salani. Alex Black Moses had specifically said that he had collected the copies of the publications he was distributing on 19th September from Robert Chasowa at the Polytechnic. Assistant Superintendent Jere was given further instructions by Commissioner Jose to look for Robert Chasowa. She went to the Polytechnic on two occasions to look for Robert Chasowa. On 21st September, 2011 Assistant Superintendent Jere met with Mr. Dickson Nitho, the Polytechnic Security Officer and asked for Robert Chasowa. According to Mr. Nitho, he advised her to give him more time to search for Robert Chasowa as she had not provided him with sufficient details to identify the Robert Chasowa they were looking for. The following day Assistant Superintendent Jere went back to the Polytechnic and met with Mr. Nitho who took her to the Assistant Registrar (Academic), Mr. Stuart Potiphar Chirambo. Assistant Superintendent Jere told Mr. Chirambo that Robert Chasowa was being sought on account of anti-government publications that had been found by the Police. Mr. Chirambo looked for the details of Robert Chasowa but was unable to get him on the phone number which they had in their records. Mr. Chirambo then asked for more time to enable him find Robert. Mr. Chirambo left word with Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) leaders to tell Robert that he was looking for him and that he should see him. Robert called Mr. Chirambo around 6 pm and they agreed to meet at the club at the Polytechnic at 8.30 pm. Mr. Chirambo went to the Club as arranged but by 10.30 pm Robert had not shown up and his phone was switched off. Mr. Chirambo could not wait any longer and he left for home. According to Mr. Chirambo, Robert came to meet him in his office around 8.30 am on 23rd September, 2011. When Mr. Chirambo saw Robert he was surprised because he knew him as Robinho and not as Robert Chasowa. It had not occurred to him that the Robert Chasowa the Police were looking for was the Robinho he knew and played football with.
Mr. Chirambo asked Robert about the publications and he admitted that he was involved but that it was a long story. Robert disclosed that copies of the
26
publications were brought to him from Zingwangwa. He would run more copies for distribution. He also disclosed that some copies would be collected from him by Alex Black Moses for distribution. Upon hearing that, Mr. Chirambo advised Robert to surrender himself to the Police in the company of his colleagues or a lawyer. Robert was concerned about his place at the College but Mr. Chirambo assured him that his place would be reserved. He said Robert contemplated running away, but he advised him against it. He advised him to change his phone number. While in Mr Chirambo’s office they tried to call Mr. Trouble Kalua, Robert’s lawyer, but they were unable to reach him. That time Mr. Chirambo was rushing to a meeting. He told Robert to come back later. The short time that Robert was in Mr. Chirambo’s office, Mr Chirambo observed that he was rather unsettled and appeared apprehensive. Allan Chipwere, Robert’s roommate, also confirmed that during this week Robert appeared unsettled. According to Allan, Robert was on campus but not spending much time in the room. He would only come in the room to sleep around 4 am. He seemed different and Allan felt something was wrong. Lydia Jere, a student at the Polytechnic and a close friend of Robert, also testified that in the course of that week Robert said to her “man, ndapalamula” (I am in trouble). He did not disclose what he had done. On the evening of 23rd September, 2011 she observed that he did not look alright and he sounded low. He told her he would meet his lawyer. When she met him later that day, she observed that he was now cheerful. He told her that he had met his lawyer. Innocent Sulani, a 5th year Engineering student at Polytechnic and a friend to Robert, testified that on Monday, 19th September, 2011, Robert called Alex Black Moses to come to the Polytechnic. When Alex Black Moses arrived, he accompanied them to Nation Publications Limited (NPL) office at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre. At NPL, he was left at the reception while Robert and Alex Black Moses went in to meet the officials.
The following day Robert told him that Alex Black Moses had been arrested and that he had been told that he would be next. On Wednesday Robert told him that he had changed his phone number and he gave him the new number. On Friday 23rd September, 2011 around 2 pm, Robert came to his room and requested him to go to a Standard Bank Auto Teller Machine (ATM) to withdraw all the money from Robert’s account. Innocent did as requested and
27
withdrew all the money in Robert’s account and also bought him a new sim card and airtime. According to Innocent, this week Robert was not himself. Robert spoke with Commissioner Jose on the morning of Friday 23rd September, 2011. According to Commissioner Jose, he advised Robert to surrender himself to the Police. Robert agreed but said he would first want to go to Lilongwe to meet with his father as he did not want his parents to hear about the matter from the radio. Commissioner Jose said he agreed with Robert and that he also reported to the IG accordingly. Robert spent most of the afternoon of Friday 23rd September, 2011 in Ndagha Mkandawire’s room. Ndagha was a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student at the Polytechnic and as mentioned above, a very close friend of Robert. Robert used to spend most of his time with her. According to Ndagha, that afternoon Robert met his friend Justice Kangulu and they agreed that they would both surrender themselves to the Police. While in Ndagha’s room Robert tried to get hold of Mr. Trouble Kalua, his lawyer, on several occasions on the phone. During this time Ndagha observed that Robert was rather distressed. Eventually he was able to reach Mr. Kalua who came to pick him from the Polytechnic to his office around 8 pm. From Mr. Kalua’s office they returned to the Polytechnic around 9 pm.
2.2.4 The night of Robert’s death
When he returned from meeting his lawyer, Ndagha observed that this time Robert appeared happy and cheerful. Ndagha therefore went to drink at the club within the campus. She was there for about 2 hours. Robert went to Lydia’s room. He returned to Ndagha’s room around 11pm carrying a notepad and a CD. According to Ndagha, when Robert returned to her room he asked for a pen to write something important but he did not allow her to see what he was writing. After Robert finished writing at around midnight, they both went to Robert’s room to pick up some papers and a diary. They went via the club where Ndagha wanted to buy cigarettes. Allan Chipwere confirmed that indeed Robert and Ndagha came into the room around midnight. From Robert’s room they both returned to Ndagha’s room.
28
Ms. Lillian White, Robert’s girlfriend, testified that Robert called her around 1 am on 24th September, 2011. However according to Lillian’s phone records (attached as Annex 5), Robert called her around 11 pm on 23rd September, 2011. He told her that he was looking forward to seeing her in a week’s time when she visits Blantyre. He also told her he was in Ndagha’s room and assured her that he loved her and would marry her. According to Allan, after Robert left their room, later in the night he noticed that he had missed a call on his mobile phone. This was around 00.30 am. Allan’s phone records are attached as Annex 6. When he called that number (0999 005 064) Robert answered. Robert told him that that was his new number and that it was Ndagha who had called him earlier. Robert told him that he was in Ndagha’s room. According to Ndagha, when they returned to her room Robert kept talking about his life and his relationship with her. She said she eventually dozed off and fell asleep. Later Robert woke her up and told her he was leaving and asked her to lock the door. At the door he said to her that he was sorry because he was leaving her with a lot of work to do. She watched him walk away down the stairs. She thought it was already daylight but when she checked the time on her mobile phone, it was 03.33 am. She decided to go back to sleep.
2.2.5 Discovery of the body
Mr. Dindo Malipilo, a Security Force Guard Services (SFGS) guard, told the Commission that he discovered a body of a male adult person lying on the grounds behind the Administration Block near the Accounts office at the Polytechnic. This, according to him, was around 03.40 am on 24th September, 2011. Mr. Malipilo then notified his supervisor Mr. Aristariko Chumachiyenda. Mr. Chumachiyenda went to see the body. He then notified Mr. Paul Mulenga, the Polytechnic Security Supervisor, who was on duty that night. Mr. Mulenga, together with Mr. Chumachiyenda, went to see the body. They then went to inform the PSU Vice President, Mr. Nene Lungu. Mr Lungu, Mr. Vincent Chaduka and another student accompanied Mr. Mulenga and Mr. Chumachiyenda to the scene of the incident. Mr. Chaduka identified the body as that of Robert Chasowa, a 4th year student at the Polytechnic.
29
Mr. Mulenga then called Mr. Nitho to report the incident at around 4 am. Mr. Mulenga and one student went to report the incident at Blantyre Police Station. Mr. Victor Mandiwe, a student at the Polytechnic called Mr. Chirambo to report the incident. Detective Sub/Inspector Madalitso Banda and Detective Sergeant George Zimba were the first officers to come on the scene. They found the body as was. It was found lying face down on rough concrete slabs. It was in a pair of three-quarter camouflage shorts, a T-shirt and a scumber, with a slipper on one foot. The other slipper was a short distance away. The T-shirt was well tucked in the shorts. The head lay in a localised pool of blood. There were no splashes of blood around the area. The face was covered in blood. There was a transverse cut wound on the occipital (back) part of the head. There was dust and grass on both of his knees. There were no other obvious body injuries. The Commission made three visits to the scene of incident with some of the relevant witnesses. The witnesses demonstrated how and where the body was found. The Commission, among other things took measurements on the scene. The Commission observed that the body was lying on 4cm thick rough concrete slabs. The feet were 1.2m away from a pillar which supports a corridor that is 7m above. The head spot was at a diagonal of 7.65m from the top of the corridor wall. There was no grass or dust on the site where the body was discovered. Mrs. Rebecca Madulila, the Polytechnic Clinic nurse, came to the scene around 5 am. She inspected the body and confirmed death. She also confirmed that it was Robert Chasowa, a Polytechnic student. Detective Sub/Inspector Banda and Detective Sergeant Zimba testified that they “secured” the scene and took the initial photograph. They were later joined by Detective Sub/Inspector Bonwell Chambwinja, the Scenes of Crime Officer, who took more photographs and then ordered the body to be removed to the College of Medicine (COM) mortuary for post-mortem examination.
When the matter was being reported to Mr. Chirambo, he was told that the body had already been removed from the scene to the COM mortuary. Mr. Chirambo went straight to COM. At the COM mortuary, after confirming that the body was that of Robert Chasowa, he proceeded to the Polytechnic. He then called Robert’s father and informed him of the death. Robert’s father asked him to speak with Robert’s uncle.
30
From his office Mr. Chirambo went to the Vice Principal’s office where he found Ndagha and Henry Masoka. Ndagha was relating the events of the previous night to the Polytechnic management. She informed management that Robert had left her with a diary and two envelopes. One envelope was addressed to his father and the other to Mr. Chirambo. Ndagha said Robert had said the diary was to be given to his girlfriend, Lillian White. Mr. Chirambo, Ndagha and Henry Masoka went to collect the diary and envelopes from Ndagha’s room. Mr. Chirambo opened the envelope that was addressed to him. It contained four notes. These were addressed to Mr. Chirambo, Mr. Trouble Kalua, Commissioner Jose and Honourable Henry Phoya, MP. At about the same time Mr. Nitho came to the Vice Principal’s office with another note which had been given to him by Allan the roommate. According to Allan, the note had been discovered by Victor Mandiwe on Robert’s bed. Mr. Chirambo read his own note and gave it to the Registrar and the Vice Principal. He kept the other notes and the diary. Between 9.30 am and 10 am senior police officers came to the Polytechnic. Some of the police officers who came were from the National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe. Mr. Chirambo gave to the Police the note addressed to the father (attached as Annex 7 and the other note, a poem entitled Life is a Mystery which had been brought by Mr. Nitho (attached as Annex 8). Later Mr. Chirambo called Mr. Trouble Kalua to inform him of the death and the notes. Mr. Kalua came to the Polytechnic and Mr. Chirambo gave him his note, the diary and the two notes addressed to Commissioner Jose and Hon. Henry Phoya. Mr. Kalua undertook to deliver the notes and the diary. After collecting the notes the Police went to COM mortuary. In the afternoon Mr. Chirambo called the COM mortuary to find out the position about the post-mortem examination. He was informed that the examination was already in progress and that it was almost completed. He rushed there but by the time he arrived the examination was completed.
He went to meet Dr. Dzamalala, the Pathologist, at his office and found him photocopying the note to the father. Dr. Dzamalala asked Mr. Chirambo where the note had been found. Dr. Dzamalala’s comment was that it did not make sense that he (Robert) had committed suicide. He repeated this several times.
31
When Mr. Chirambo returned to the mortuary from Dr. Dzamalala’s office, the Police were anxious to know what the Pathologist’s opinion on the note was. They asked whether the Pathologist thought Robert had been killed.
2.2.6 Date and time of death
The information available to the Commission shows that Robert was alive at 00.30 am on 24th September, 2011 from his phone conversation with Allan Chipwere. The information also shows that Robert’s body was found lying on the concrete pavement behind the Administration Block near the Accounts office at about 03.40 am and was confirmed dead by Mrs. Madulila at about 05.00 am on 24th September, 2011. The time of death could not be established by post-mortem examination because of the refrigeration of the body which interferes with the normal changes that occur after death which are used to estimate the time of death (flaccidity, rigidity, secondary flaccidity and cooling).
2.2.7 Cause of death and results of post-mortem examination
After post-mortem examination Dr. Dzamalala issued a Preliminary Report and gave it to the Police. This Report was on the Order of Post-mortem Examination Form and is attached as Annex 9. The cause of death was said to be “intra-cerebral haemorrhage due to head injuries”. This means that death was as a result of traumatic bleeding inside the skull and brain. This Report was issued on 24th September, 2011. This was to await a final Report that would explain how the injuries sustained by Robert were occasioned. Dr. Dzamalala promised the Police that he would issue the final Report within one week. The final Report was completed on 29th September, 2011 and signed on 4th October, 2011. The salient post-mortem examination findings were: Head
1.1.1. Fresh wound with a transverse length of 6.0cm. It is 1.0cm wide but with a central portion that is wider (2.0cm), has uneven margins and exposes bone (see exhibit 1.1.1);
1.1.2. Comminuted fracture with five fractural lines. The longest extends from the occiput to the base of the right ear; measures 11.5cm; the
32
second longest fracture is along the vertex of the head. It is linear and measures 5.5cm. This fractural line has one fragment of the fracture slightly displaced into the cranium, rendering it a depressed fracture. The other three are smaller fractures and are linking with the longest fracture (see exhibit 1.1.2);
1.1.3. There were two areas of haematoma within the scalp on the right side of the head, corresponding with points of impact. These areas are demonstrated in exhibit 1.1.3 and are on the right side of the head, over the right temporal and right parietal aspects of skull bones;
1.1.4. There was a third poorly defined area of haematoma on the right temporal bone near the right ear; another probable point of impact;
1.1.5. Blood oozing from all orifices in the head (nostrils, mouth and ears) as well as the wound site.
Back
1.1.6 Four scratch marks; all on the non-prominent areas of the back, on either side and between T6 and L4 vertebral levels. These scratch marks show no particular pattern; the largest measures 6.0 x 1.5cm; all look traumatic, rather than self inflicted injuries. They do not appear fresh and, based on their colour and an attempt at healing, these injuries should be at least three days (3-5days) old – as demonstrated in exhibit 1.2.1.
1.1.7 There were no other injuries or fractures noted in the other parts of the body; not even to structures like the right ear and shoulder that are close to the injury site.
Cause of death Unnatural:-
(a)Severe traumatic intracranial haemorrhage (epidural and subdural), due to or as the consequence of;
(b)Head injuries, with comminuted and depressed fractures to skull bones, due to or as the consequence of; and
(c) Blunt trauma, consistent with assault rather than a fall from a height.
The final post-mortem examination Report is attached as Annex 10.
33
The Commission made further observations based on the photographs of the body that were taken during the post-mortem examination and made available to it. With respect to paragraph 1.1.2 in the original post- mortem examination report the Commission made these further observations:
• The longest fractural line, measuring 11.5 cm, extends from the back and base of the right ear. It goes backwards along the junction of the parietal and temporal bones for about half of its length before dipping downwards and fracturing the temporal bone. The downward extension is about 5 cm long.
• The second longest fracture line, measuring 5.5 cm, is along the vertex of the skull. It is linear and in horizontal direction. It has fractured the right parietal bone at the level of the superior temporal line.
• A third fracture runs in vertical direction for about 5 cm and connects the two fractures referred to above.
• Three other smaller fractures; starting from a point just before the longest fracture line leaves the junction of the parietal and temporal bones, travel down and backwards in the temporal bone. The last portion takes an upward and forward direction and links up with the longest fracture line. In this way these three smaller fracture lines completely enclose a portion of the temporal bone.
• With respect to paragraph to 1.1.3 of the original post-mortem report the Commission observed that one haematoma is located over the portion of temporal bone which is completely encircled by fracture lines. The other is located just behind it but outside the encircled fragment of bone.
• In paragraph 1.1.5 of the original post-mortem, the oozing of blood from the nostrils and ears is evidence of the fractures of the base of the skull.
34
CHAPTER THREE
CONDUCT AND EFFICIENCY OF THE MALAWI POLYTECHNIC ADMINISTRATION
3.1 Management response to the incident
The Administration of the Malawi Polytechnic, through the Assistant Registrar and the Security Officer, were aware that Robert was being sought after by the Police from 20th September, 2011. The Administration merely advised Robert to surrender himself to the Police. The view of the Commission is that the Administration should have escorted Robert to the SRPH, which is only a few hundred meters away from the Polytechnic campus. In that way the Administration would have formally confirmed why Robert was being sought after. This would also have ensured Robert’s safety in the hands of the Police. When Mr. Mulenga received the report of the incident from the guards he immediately looked for PSU leaders to help confirm whether the victim was a student. Soon as it was confirmed that he was a student, Mr. Mulenga called Mr. Nitho. Mr. Nitho quickly came to the Polytechnic. He in turn called the Vice Principal. Meanwhile one of the student leaders contacted Mr. Chirambo who immediately went to COM mortuary where the body had been taken. The Commission established that soon upon being aware of the incident the Administration reported to the Police and contacted the parents of the deceased. The view of the Commission is that the Polytechnic Administration properly and promptly responded to the incident. The Polytechnic Administration were involved in the arrangements after death. Otherwise, the Police took charge of the matter from the moment it was reported to them.
3.2 Lack of security
The Malawi Polytechnic was outsourcing security services from two private companies, KAMU Guard Services and SFGS. At the material time KAMU Guard Services was responsible for all the hostels and the surrounding areas whilst SFGS was responsible for the rest of the campus, including the area where the body of Robert was found.
35
The arrangement was that each of the company had a designated supervisor in charge of its guards. The supervisor was reporting to the Polytechnic Security Supervisor. The company supervisor was supposed to provide the Polytechnic with a list of guards on duty and their deployment sites, on a daily basis. The Polytechnic Supervisor was supposed to confirm the presence of the guards at the deployment sites. On the night of 23rd September, 2011 the Polytechnic Supervisor was Mr. Paul Mulenga. The supervisor for KAMU Guard Services was Mr. Gift Chilamwa whilst Mr. Aristariko Chumachiyenda was the supervisor for SFGS. According to the deployment sheets made available to the Commission, KAMU Guard Service guards were supposed to be deployed as follows:
Name
Deployment post
G. Chilamwa
Kapeni A Hostel
P.Kambalame
Kapeni B Hostel
G. Frackson
Ndirande A Hostel
L. Nyangu
Ndirande B Hostel
D. Makanda
Mpingwe A Hostel
D. Alli
Mpingwe B Hostel
D. Navicha
Nyika A&B Hostel
E. Phiri
Hyrid Hostel
B. James
Dog handler
Y. Mulenga
Dog handler
W. Mbawa
Extra man power
The deployment for KAMU Guard Services was complied with. However Mr. Gift Chilamwa, the supervisor, informed the Commission that most of the guards that month were new. He said that out of the 10 guards, 7 were new.
36
SFGS guards were deployed as follows:
Name
Deployment Post
Fred Dinyero
Front Administration
Harry Makina
Front Administration
Dindo Malipilo
Lecture Theatre
Cosmas Makina
Lecture Theatre
Joe Ngulo
Library Gate
Tambuli Awali
Library Gate
Frank Makweya
Library Gate
Sinoya Chiwaya
Cafeteria
Innocent Jenala
Cafeteria
Mphatso Ben
Cafeteria
Chikondi Mwamvera
Dispensary
Sydney Piano
C.I.T
Josephy Ntondeza
C.E.C
Anold Hamilton
Science Block
James Sinoya
Science Block
Peterson Andisen
First Floor 40’s
Haward Jackson
Old Management
James Jimu
Maintenance
Lucius Stephano
Maintenance
Frank Chitomba
Maintenance
Mateyu Joaquim
Stores
Paul Barton
T1
Moses Phiri
T2
Medson Taombe
T3
James Daison
T4
Charles Magombo
T5
Misheck Muli
T5
Wallo Ndoma
T6
Andrew Langson
T7
Boys Simbi
T8
Aristrariko Chumachiyenda
Patroller
The deployment for SFGS was not strictly followed. For instance, the deployment sheet shows that Frank Makweya was at the Library gate and Chikondi Mwamvera was at the Dispensary. However, Frank Makweya himself and his supervisor Mr. Chumachiyenda said that Makweya was at the
37
Dispensary. Further, although the deployment sheet shows 31 guards, Mr. Chumachiyenda told the Commission that 5 guards did not report for duties on this night. The Polytechnic Security Supervisor was not aware of these discrepancies. The view of the Commission is that there was lack of coordination between the Polytechnic security supervisors and the security guard providers. It was apparent that the Polytechnic Security Supervisor on duty did not ensure whether the guards were all present and correctly deployed. The Commission is of the view that there was total laxity such that the security providers were more or less functioning on their own. For that reason it was difficult to immediately establish which guard was deployed to which post. The Commission was told that some critical guards are missing. These are Elias Phiri, of KAMU Guard Services who was positioned at the front entrance to Hyrid Hostel, where Ndagha was residing and where Robert was last seen alive. The second guard is Harry Makina of SFGS, who was supposed to be guarding the area where Robert’s body was found. The Commission looked for these guards but was unable to find them. The third is Chikondi Mwamvera of SFGS who, according to the deployment sheet, was supposed to guard the Dispensary area which is directly above the place where the body was found.
3.3 Gates and security lighting
During the site visit the Commission learnt that at the time of the incident there were no gates at the entrances to the Polytechnic. Notably, the entrance leading to Hyrid Hostel and the entrance that leads to the area where the body was found had no gates. The Commission also learnt that there was insufficient security lighting around the hostel area. The Commission has established that gates have since been installed at all the entrances and the security lighting system has been improved.
3.4 Discovery of the alleged suicide notes
Circumstances surrounding the discovery of the “Life is a Mystery” poem are unclear. Allan Chipwere told the Commission that on this morning Robert’s bed was well made because Robert had not slept on it. Robert’s clothes were neatly
38
folded and laid on the bed. According to Allan, if there was a note of the size that is said to have been found on the bed, he would not have failed to see it. This note was written on size A3 paper (used for engineering drawings at the Polytechnic). The note, together with a photograph of a female person, were allegedly discovered by Victor Mandiwe when he and some students came to the room to collect a bed sheet to cover the body of Robert. The note was brought to Allan’s attention outside the room as they were walking out. The photograph has not been heard of again. According to Allan Chipwere, Robert’s bed was not tampered with. The bed sheet that was used to cover the body was taken from Allan’s bed. The Commission visited the room and noted its small size and the proximity of Allan’s bed to that of Robert. The Commission is of the view that indeed if such a large piece of paper had been present on Robert’s bed, Allan would not have failed to see it. The Commission did not have the opportunity to interview Victor Mandiwe as he was reported to be in the Republic of South Africa.
3.5 Discovery of the phone in the room
Allan testified that on the morning of 24th September, 2011 around 7.30 am, he heard a mobile phone ringing in the room in Robert’s locker. When he picked it and answered, a male voice asked who he was and he said he was Robert’s roommate. Allan asked who was calling, the caller did not tell him his name and cut the line. He checked the call log of the phone and found his number in the received calls. He realised that it was the number he had called when he last spoke to Robert during the night. It was Robert’s new sim card in Ndagha’s hand set. He was curious as to how the phone that Robert was using during the night had gotten into the room. Allan testified that as far as he knows, after Robert left the room at midnight with Ndagha he did not return to the room. Allan handed the phone to Mr. Nitho. The Commission observes that how the phone got into the room and into Robert’s locker remains a mystery.
39
CHAPTER FOUR
CONDUCT, EFFICIENCY AND PROFICIENCY OF THE MALAWI POLICE SERVICE IN HANDLING AND CONCLUDING THE INVESTIGATION SURROUNDING THE DEATH
4.1 Management of the scene of incident
Mr. Mulenga and one student went to report at Blantyre Police Station about a body lying on the premises of the Polytechnic campus. The Police promptly responded and came to the Polytechnic. These were Detective Sub/Inspector Banda and Detective Sergeant Zimba. They took the initial photograph and waited for the Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja to come. Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja soon arrived on the scene and took more photographs and ordered that the body be moved to the mortuary. The Commission observed that the Police did not cordon the place to preserve the scene. They did not take measurements, draw around the body to preserve the original position it was found in, and did not take fingerprints around the area. They did not check for marks of violence. The Police did not invite a medical examiner to the scene before moving the body. The medical examiner would have done the preliminary physical examination of the body on the site. The findings would have been helpful in estimating the time of death and also whether death had occurred on the site.
4.2 Guards on duty on the night of 23rd September
Police did not immediately trace the guards who guarded the incident area. Police should have called all the guards on duty for questioning on the same day of the incident. The Police docket shows that statements were recorded only from two guards of SFGS, namely Mr. Malipilo and Mr. Chumachiyenda. This was only done two weeks later in October 2011. From the statement of Mr. Malipilo to the Police, he stated that when he was going to the toilet at 03.40am he heard a person groaning. He followed the sound and saw the person lying as if he was sick. He alerted his supervisor Mr. Chumachiyenda.
The Commission observed that Mr. Malipilo is hard of hearing. The Commission visited the scene with Mr. Malipilo in order for him to demonstrate
40
the place from where he heard the groaning to where the body was lying. There are two levels from where he was to where the body was found. The body was on the lower level. The hearing distance is estimated to be 15m. Considering Mr. Malipilo’s hearing impairment, the view of the Commission is that it is unlikely that he would have heard a groaning sound from that distance. Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja told the Commission that Mr. Malipilo told him that he actually saw a person going up the stairs before he heard the groaning sound. The Commission observed that this fact is not recorded by Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja in the statement that he took from Mr. Malipilo. Had this statement been made he would not have omitted to record such an important detail. In his testimony Mr. Malipilo himself denied making this statement. He maintained his denial in the presence of Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja. From the notes in the Police docket it is apparent that the Police recognised the importance of interviewing all the guards that were on duty the night of 23rd – 24th September, 2011. Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja noted in the docket that it was essential that the Police should invite all guards, including and especially Elias Phiri who was the guard at the entrance of Hyrid Hostel as he might have seen Robert when he was leaving Ndagha’s hostel that night. However, no statement was recorded from guards of KAMU Guard Services. On 9th October, 2011 Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja went to KAMU Guard Services to look for Elias Phiri. He was informed that Elias Phiri was not reporting for duties. Apart from looking for Elias Phiri the Police have not tried to look for any of the guards from KAMU Guard Services or SFGS. As a result of this failure to immediately trace the guards, the three guards who were deployed in the critical places have not been found as mentioned earlier in this Report. The Commission itself traced and interviewed most of the guards but was unable to trace Elias Phiri, Harry Makina and Chikondi Mwamvera. With respect to Harry Makina, the Commission learnt that his personal file and photograph are missing from his employer’s office. The Commission did not get useful information about the events of the night of 23rd September from the guards that testified obviously because the critical guards could be not traced.
41
4.3 Post-mortem examination
As mentioned earlier, Robert’s body was taken to COM mortuary for post-mortem examination. Robert’s brother and sister, in the company of neighbours, came to the mortuary and requested to view the body before the examination. They were allowed to view the body but were not invited to be present during the post-mortem examination. Robert’s mother was present but the relatives did not allow her to see the body because of her high blood pressure condition. Since the matter was in the hands of the Police, it was the Police who requested for the post-mortem examination to be conducted and the Polytechnic guaranteed payment. The Commission was informed by Mr. Chirambo and the Pathologist that during the examination there was heavy Police presence. The Police included senior officers from the National Police Headquarters and the SRPH. The Commission was further informed that after the post-mortem examination the Police handed the Pathologist the alleged suicide note addressed to Robert’s father. This note had been given to the Police by Mr. Chirambo. It is unusual for the Police to give a Pathologist unsolicited information after a post-mortem examination has been conducted. In the view of the Commission this, together with the heavy Police presence, was to influence the Pathologist’s decision to perpetuate the suicide theory as discussed below.
4.4 Press Statement
On the evening of 24th September, 2011 the IG called the then National Police Press and Public Relations Officer, Senior Assistant Commissioner Willie Mwaluka and said to him that he was not “feeding” the nation with sufficient information about the death of Robert Chasowa. He was instructed to go to Blantyre to get the information and issue a press statement. On 25th September, 2011 Senior Assistant Commissioner Mr. Mwaluka travelled to Blantyre. He instructed the SRPH Press and Public Relations Officer Assistant Commissioner Davie Chingwalu not to say anything on the matter and that he would handle it himself.
On arrival at the SRPH, Senior Assistant Commissioner Mwaluka was briefed by Assistant Commissioner Chingwalu and then he met the RCIO Superintendent Chisale, Senior Deputy Commissioner Lexten Kachama and UCIO Superintendent Caroline Jere. RCIO Superintendent Chisale explained to
42
him that the previous day’s investigations had found a suicide note. He was given the alleged suicide note and the preliminary post-mortem examination report. Senior Assistant Commissioner Mwaluka then proceeded to draft a press statement. Senior Assistant Commissioner Mwaluka called the IG and read the draft statement to him. According to Senior Assistant Commissioner Mwaluka, this was to seek the IG’s approval of the statement before it could be released. He said this is the standard requirement. The IG gave his approval for the statement to be released as was. The Press Statement was released in the afternoon of the same day on both television and radio. The Press Statement was taken to the print media houses on the same day and started appearing in the print media the following day. The Press Statement is attached as Annex 11. The IG does not dispute that the Press Statement was read out to him after it was drafted. He made no changes to it. He disputed that it was read over to him in order for him to approve its contents. According to him, the officers on the ground were best placed to determine the contents of the Press Statement. According to the Press Statement, Robert had committed suicide. The relevant paragraph from the Press Statement states: “With this evidence adduced, it is evident that Robert Chasowa had already planned to commit suicide. It is also evident in this regard that the deceased jumped from the upstairs corridor that resulted to sustaining of head injuries”.
4.5 The suicide theory
The Commission learnt from Mrs. Rebecca Madulila and Mr. Vincent Chaduka that the first police officers on the scene, i.e. Detective Sub/Inspector Banda and Detective Sergeant Zimba, were overheard discussing between themselves that this could not have been suicide by jumping from the balcony. They said there should have been blood and brain tissue splattered and other obvious body injuries. Similarly Mrs. Katenje, the Dean of Students at the Polytechnic, informed the Commission that she overheard the same two police officers at the COM mortuary discussing that this could not have been a suicide. They said that they expected blood and brain to splatter following a fall from such a height.
Commissioner Jose testified that in her first communication to him, UCIO Superintendent Caroline Jere reported that the first officers on the scene had
43
suspected “foul play”. When Senior Deputy Commissioner Lexten Kachama was briefing Robert’s father and relatives on the morning of 25th September, 2011 he informed them that although there was a note suggesting suicide it was too early to exclude the possibility of murder. He further informed them that the matter was being investigated and that the post-mortem examination report was being awaited. We have earlier talked about the alleged suicide note and that the note was passed on to the Police by the Polytechnic Administration. From that point on senior police officers mooted the possibility of suicide. However, although suicide was mooted, the senior officers did not completely rule out the possibility of foul play. They in fact recommended further investigations. The Commission therefore observes that the first officers on the scene were of the opinion that it was foul play and that suicide was mooted later by senior officers. It was only in the Press Statement that this matter was conclusively said to be a case of suicide. The relevant paragraph from the Press Statement is quoted above. As mentioned earlier, the Press Statement was made on the afternoon of 25th September, 2011. The Commission observes that this was before the final results of the post-mortem examination and before the authorship of the alleged suicide note was confirmed by a handwriting expert. The Press Statement virtually closed the chapter on the matter. After the Press Statement, on 26th September, 2011 the main investigator in the matter, Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja, closes the chapter on further investigations in these words: “26/09/11 – scene of crime was already visited by high delegated police officers including the Crime Supt, the RCIO, the UCIO, the Regional Photographer and myself. The scene clearly shows that the deceased committed suicide.” Upon hearing the Press Statement, Dr. Dzamalala was prompted to react because he had not yet issued the final post-mortem examination results. Dr. Dzamalala’s reaction, which appeared in the Malawi News newspaper of 1st October, 2011, was prompted by the fact that the Press Statement implied that a final post-mortem examination report had been issued. The final post-mortem examination report, as mentioned earlier was only signed on 4th October, 2011. It was collected by the Police on 5th October, 2011.
44
4.6 Further investigations
There was a contradiction between the Press Statement and the post-mortem examination results and the controversy was now in the public domain. On 6th October, 2011 the Police were compelled to re-open the investigations. According to the Police docket, this is how Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja goes back to the matter and we quote: “06/10/11 – Taking from what the post-mortem examination result has said intensive enquiries have been started with the help of the RCIO South. We have for the second time invited some people to clarify on some points on the movement of the deceased on this particular day… .” The Commission observes that if it were not for the post-mortem examination Report, this matter would have been closed on the basis of the Press Statement. The Police docket shows that from 6th October, 2011 the Police indeed went on to interview further witnesses in the matter. In the course of the investigations, the alleged suicide note together with specimens of Robert’s handwriting collected from the Polytechnic, were submitted, on 19th October, 2011, to Assistant Commissioner Tiyese Mavuto Chiumbuzo for examination. He is the Handwriting Expert for the MPS. These documents were marked Q1 to Q3 and S1 to S3. Q1 to Q3 were the questioned documents, that is, the letter to the father, the envelope it was in and a poem entitled “Life is a Mystery”. S1 to S2 were specimen examination papers written by Robert Chasowa and S3 is a poem entitled khumbo la khumbo lane written by Robert Chasowa. Assistant Commissioner Chiumbuzo submitted his Report on 28th October, 2011. He concluded that: “Based on these observations there is high probability that Robert Chasowa was responsible for the authorship of questioned anonymous letters and the envelope which were submitted for handwriting examination”. The Report is attached as Annex 12.
According to the Police, because they were “implicated” in the matter, it was proposed that there should be investigations by external institutions. Senior Assistant Commissioner Mtekama proposed that the alleged suicide note
45
together with the specimens should be sent to the Republic of South Africa for independent expert opinion. The Police sent the documents that had been examined by Assistant Commissioner Chiumbuzo to the Questioned Documents Unit of the Forensic Science Laboratory of the South African Police Service. They were examined by Colonel Marthinus Theunis Du Toit. He is an expert examiner of questioned documents. In his Report dated 14th February, 2012 he concluded as follows: “… The disputed writing marked Q1 to Q3 and the specimen writing marked S1 to S3 was written by the same writer. …” The Report is attached as Annex 13. Deputy Commissioner Lexa Chalera, then Director of CID, proposed that the rest of the investigation be undertaken by Interpol. According to her, she wrote a memo to the IG to that effect. The Commission confirmed that there was communication with Interpol. In their testimony before the Commission, all police officers interviewed and asked about the Press Statement agreed that it was grossly inappropriate to issue such a conclusive Press Statement that Robert had committed suicide at that stage of the matter. It was only the IG who did not seem to agree with this position. The police officers also agreed that the matter needed to be investigated further. The IG too agreed. The Commission established that to date the investigations in the matter have not been concluded. The Commission was told that nothing is being done by the MPS to investigate the matter further because they are waiting for Interpol to take over. The Commission however takes judicial notice that in the course of the Inquiry some individuals have been arrested on account of this matter.
46
CHAPTER FIVE
THE POLITICAL DIMENSION
5.1 Robert’s involvement in youth organisations
The Commission was informed by Alex Black Moses that in 2010 he formed an organisation called Youth for Freedom and Democracy (YFD). Alex Black Moses later persuaded Robert, his childhood friend, to join him in the organisation. He said he needed Robert in the organisation because he himself has not gone very far with education. According to Alex Black Moses, he formed YFD because he was not happy with the political disagreements that were going on at that time between the late State President Professor Bingu wa Mutharika and the then Vice President Madam Mrs Joyce Banda and the effects of those disagreements on the economy.
One of the activities of YFD was to publish and distribute materials which were critical of the Government and its leadership. The publication was entitled “Youth for Freedom and Democracy: A Weekly Political Update”. These materials were mostly being distributed in Blantyre. They were also published on various websites including Nyasa Times2
While Robert was interacting with Alex Black Moses he had also joined Duncan Phiri in June 2011 in an organisation called New Vision Youth Organisation (NVYO). This is the organisation whose plan, as mentioned . As a result of this publication Alex Black Moses was arrested by the Police on 31st December, 2010 at Motel Paradise in Blantyre. After his release from custody Alex Black Moses met with Robert in early 2011. In their discussion they agreed to meet with Mr. Kamlepo Kalua. According to Alex Black Moses, Mr. Kalua was the person providing them with the materials they were publishing in the Weekly Political Update. They went to meet Mr. Kalua in the company of Justice Kangulu. While with Mr. Kalua he warned them about the dangers of anti-government activities. He advised them not to trust each other or mention those that were helping them with the publications. Their response to the warning was that they were prepared to face the consequences. According to Alex Black Moses, Robert continued to work with him.
2 http://www.nyasatimes.com
47
earlier, was to promote youth involvement in development activities. In particular, the organisation was interested in working with the government in the political arena, restructuring of MRA, tracing tax evasion by traders, developing ways of supporting the ZDB, utilization of the green belt initiative and analysis of the Farm Inputs Subsidy Program. Their ideas were given to Robert to draft a proposal to present to government. The Commission finds confirmation of these matters in what is contained in Robert’s diary in the entry of 16th June, 2011 where he writes: “ … WE PLAN TO PROPOSE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CASH/ZERO DEFICIT BUDGET AND RESTRUCTURING THE MRA – PLANS TO DEFEAT THE TAX EVASION FRAUD IN MALAWI AS A WAY TO IMPLEMENT THE BUDGET THE UTILIZATION OF THE GREEN CURVE AND THE DEVELOPMENT THAT MAY FOLLOW – A FINAL ANALYSIS OF THE SUBSIDY PROGRAMME IN COMPARISON TO GOVT FARMS TO COVER UP THE GREEN CURVE – MEETING JUSTICE TOMORROW AGAIN” (sic). A copy of the diary entry is attached as Annex 14.
5.2 Attempts to meet with the then State President
On 25th June, 2011, in his diary Robert talks about the need to finish the draft proposal to present to the Press Officer of the President, Mr. Albert Mungomo. On 27th June, 2011 Robert talks about completing the proposal and discussing it with the group which he refers to as the “Conspiracy” in his diary. The group, as mentioned earlier, comprised of Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone, Justice Kangulu and Robert. On this same day Robert talks of sending the proposal to Mr. Mungomo and waiting for an invitation from him to a meeting the following day. It would appear that on the 28th June, 2011, Robert and Justice Kangulu met Mr. Mungomo to discuss a deal on production of identity cards. Later on that same day, as a group, they had also arranged to meet Mr. Mungomo to discuss their proposal. The group was not able to meet Mr. Mungomo because he did not show up as arranged.
On 4th July, 2011 the group arranged to meet Mr. Mungomo at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. The meeting was to be on 8th July, 2011. On 7th July, 2011 the group
48
met to prepare for the meeting. On 8th July, 2011 the group travelled to Lilongwe to meet Mr. Mungomo to discuss the proposal as scheduled. In Lilongwe they called Mr. Mungomo who told them that he was in an emergency government meeting and that he would meet them later. Mr. Mungomo never showed up until the group decided to return to Blantyre. According to Duncan Phiri, the whole idea of meeting Mr. Mungomo was for him to facilitate a meeting with the then State President. After failing to meet Mr. Mungomo the group decided they would try to contact Honourable Professor Peter Mutharika, MP. On 18th July, 2011 Robert called Honourable Mutharika. This is confirmed by Robert in his diary entry of that date and his phone records. The phone records are attached as Annex 15. Duncan also told the Commission that Robert called Honourable Mutharika on 18th July, 2011. It would appear that this plan of meeting the then State President was not working out for the group.
5.3 Interaction with the Police
As mentioned above, there were national anti-government demonstrations on 20th July. Following those demonstrations, other demonstrations were planned for 17th August, 2011. The group conceived another plan to work with the Government through the MPS to prevent the demonstration scheduled for 17th August. As indicated earlier, the group was concerned with the impact of the 20th July demonstrations on the youth and the economy. They feared that the scheduled demonstrations would worsen the situation. The interaction of the group with the Police has been discussed earlier in this Report. We have also explained how the interaction was terminated and how the group reacted to the termination. According to Duncan Phiri, whilst the rest of the group gave up on their demands for payment following the termination of their engagement with the Police, Robert felt used and was determined to pursue the matter. It was at this point that he reverted to his involvement with Alex Black Moses in the anti-government publications apparently without the knowledge of rest the group.
49
5.4 YFD publications
Although Robert interacted with the group and was part of the plan to prevent the 17th August demonstrations by the group, his resolve was to work against the government. According to his diary entry of 11th August, 2011 his perception of the leadership was as follows: “POWER CORRUPTS AND CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY. BUT SINCERITY IS AN ATTRIBUTE OF HIGH INTEGRITY. THEY ARE A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES. MAY BE IT IS A RESULT OF PRINTED PAPER SOME CALL IT MONEY. A COUNTRY RUN BY A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES. PUPPETS WHO CANT MATCH THEIR ACTION AND VOICE. IS THIS LEGACY REFERENDUM LEFT FOR US. A BUNCH OF OPPORTUNISTS WHO MAKE MONEY OUT OF BLOOD. IS THIS THE SPIRIT OF THE FIGHT YOU STAGED IN 93 AND 92. OR HAVING SEEN NO HOPE YOU RESORTED TO A CONNING ENTREPRENEURSHIP. THIS IS MY COUNTRY AND IF ANYONE IS TO COLLECT IT AM GOING TO BE THAT MAN.” (sic) In his entry of 12th August he continued as follows: “… THIS CALAMITY FACING MY LAND IS A RESULT OF DEEPER PLAGUE AFFECTING MY MOTHER LAND. I KNOW THE PEOPLE ARE SICK. THEY ARE CORRUPT AND HUNGRY FOR MONEY THEY INSATIABLE APPETITE FOR POWER IS DEVILISHLY SCARY. WHO WILL COME OUT AND MAKE THEM PEOPLE UNDERSTAND, CONSTRUE, DECIPHER AND PERCIEVE THINGS IN THE RIGHT MANNER?” (sic). A copy of the diary entry is attached as Annex 16. It was apparent to the Commission that when Robert reverted to his activities with Alex Black Moses he was more determined than before to work against the Government. Robert’s determination is manifest in Volume 3A of the Weekly Political Update dated 15th August, 2011 on which he decided to append his mobile phone number. Previously it was only Alex Black Moses’s mobile phone numbers that were appearing on the publications.
According to Duncan Phiri, when he as well as Phaniso Mhone asked Robert why his mobile phone number was appearing on such a publication, Robert did not seem to mind. From Volume 3A to Volume 6A which is dated 19th September, Robert’s mobile phone number continued to appear on the publications. The Commission observed that the contents of the publications
50
became more and more critical of the government and its leadership as they progressed from Volume 3A to 6A. The publications are attached as Annex 17. As mentioned earlier, on 19th September, 2011 Robert, Alex Black Moses and Innocent Sulani went to NPL Office at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre to deliver a copy of Volume 6A of the Weekly Update. From NPL Robert and Innocent went back to the Polytechnic. Alex Black Moses continued distributing the publication. He gave a copy to Mr. Bester Saopa whom as mentioned above was a DPP functionary. On that same day Alex Black Moses also met Mr. Cecil Kapakasa, a DPP youth cadet and friend to Mr. Noel Masangwi who warned him of the consequences they would face for distributing the publications. It has also been stated above that on 19th September, Commissioner Jose received a phone call from the then Presidential Guard Commander, Mr. Mwapasa reporting that Alex Black Moses was distributing anti-government publications in town. Commissioner Jose then issued instructions for the arrest of Alex Black Moses and later issued instructions for the arrest of Robert.
5.5 The wider political dimension
As mentioned earlier, in the years 2010 and 2011the country was going through political, social and economic problems. It has also been said that these translated in various forms of reaction from different sections of our society. CSOs resorted to making ultimatums which eventually led to the 20th July demonstrations and the events that followed. While these events were taking place government was making efforts to manage the situation. DPP functionaries on their part were working to silence the critics. The Commission was given examples of these events such as the torching of Blantyre market, Rafik Hajat’s Office and Balaka market. It was also mentioned to the Commission that there were threats to individual civil society activists.
The Commission learnt that during this period DPP officials held various meetings to plan for their response to the situation. Mr. James Chimera, DPP District Governor for Blantyre Urban, informed the Commission that on 18th July, 2011, Honourable Dr. Lucius Kanyumba, MP, held a meeting of DPP Southern Region District Governors at Blantyre City Council in the Town Hall. At the meeting he conveyed a request from the late State President to the Governors to inform the Party supporters not to take to the streets on 20th July,
51
2011. The late President feared there would be chaos. He advised against counter demonstrations. On 19th July, 2011 Mr. James Chimera called for a meeting at the Blantyre District DPP office to relay the message from the late State President to the Blantyre District constituents. After the meeting Mr. Frank Julius, DPP District Youth Director, requested to use Mr. Chimera’s official party vehicle to transport youths from the constituencies. Suspecting unlawful use of the vehicle, Mr. Chimera declined to release it. Subsequently Mr. Chimera saw three DPP vehicles bringing in cartons. He noticed that these cartons contained pangas. At that point he left. Later in the evening he heard on Joy Radio that DPP youth cadets drove along the streets of Blantyre City in DPP vehicles whilst wielding pangas. Mr. Chimera told the Commission that one of the vehicles was driven by Mr. Frank Julius. He also told the Commission that one of the three vehicles that was used was that which was assigned to Mr. Lewis Ngalande, DPP Southern Region Youth Director. Mr. Chimera told the Commission that after the 20th July demonstrations there were several meetings at the Blantyre District DPP office. At one of the meetings Mr. Frank Julius wanted to beat him up. Mr. Stoni John tried to defend him. This led into a fight between Mr. Stoni John and Mr. Frank Julius. In the course of the fight Mr. Chimera heard Mr. Frank Julius say “muona zimene anawona Chasowa” (you will be dealt with the way Chasowa was). These words were being directed at Mr. Chimera himself and Mr. Stoni John. Mr Chimera was emphatic about these words having been uttered by Mr. Frank Julius. Commenting on Robert’s death, Mr. Chimera told the Commission that information coming to him was that on the night of 23rd September, 2011 Robert was picked up from the Polytechnic campus by the Police with the help of KAMU Guard Services guards. He heard that Robert was then taken to the SRPH and that electric shock sticks were used to subdue him. He was then taken from SRPH to some place along Lunzu road and eventually dumped dead at the Polytechnic campus. As will be mentioned below, this part of Mr. Chimera’s testimony is to some extent supported by the testimony of Detective Sergeant Hanna Senduwa of Limbe Police Station.
52
According to Mr. Chimera, Mr. Stoni John told him that the people who were responsible for inflicting the fatal injuries on Robert were Mr. Dolph Botomani and Mr. Sam Chulu. He said this appears to have been done on the instructions of Mr. Lewis Ngalande. The Commission was not able to interview Mr. Stoni John. He was brought to the venue of the hearings in the company of Mr. Chimera but before he could be interviewed he turned hostile on Mr. Chimera saying “mukufuna kundiyika mmavuto” (you want to get me into trouble) and then he bolted. The Commission subsequently tried to trace him but has not been successful. The Commission heard from Mr. Redson Mtiya, DPP Constituency Organising Secretary. He testified that on 19th July, 2011, after the meeting that was called by Mr. James Chimera, he was asked to remain behind together with Mr. Chikondi Makoka, the Constituency Governor and Frank the Campaign Director by Mr. Frank Julius. He did not know why they were told to remain behind. Later he saw three DPP vehicles driving into the office premises. The vehicle in front was being driven by Mr. Frank Julius. In the vehicles were DPP youth cadets with pangas. The youth cadets were instructed by Mr. Frank Julius to drive along the streets of Blantyre wielding the pangas. Mr. Mtiya said that he indeed joined the DPP youth cadets and took part in the panga wielding incident. The purpose was to intimidate people from joining the demonstrations the next day. According to Mr. Mtiya, when Mr. Frank Julius was organising the DPP youth cadets, Mr. Lewis Ngalande was present at the office but he did not say anything. After driving around Blantyre they went back to the DPP offices where Mr. Ngalande thanked them for a job well done and gave each of them K1000.00.
Mr. Mtiya further testified that a later meeting was called at the DPP office to resolve a conflict between Mr. James Chimera and Mr. Frank Julius. At this point he realised that there was a disagreement about Party positions in the District. The meeting did not resolve the problem as it soon became apparent that there were two opposing camps, one supporting Mr. Chimera and the other supporting Mr. Frank Julius. In the course of the meeting a fight broke out between Mr. Stoni John, a Chimera supporter, and Mr. Frank Julius. In the course of the fight Mr. Stoni John said that “he was going to reveal everything because the people were being childish”. Mr. Chimera confirmed that Mr. Stoni John made this statement.
53
According to Mr. Mtiya, when he heard this statement he became curious to find out what was happening. Mr. Mtiya asked Mr. Stoni John what he meant by that statement. Mr. Stoni John told him that he was the one who torched Balaka market and Mr. Rafik Hajat’s Office but that he had not been adequately paid for the jobs. Further, Mr. Mtiya said Mr. Stoni John told him that he had attended meetings that were intended to deal with Robert Chasowa who, according to them, was causing trouble at the Polytechnic and they wanted to silence him (“timuphwetse”). According to Mr. Mtiya, he later heard that Robert Chasowa had been found dead. The Commission interviewed Mr. Frank Julius. He confirmed his disagreements with Mr. James Chimera and being involved in a fight with Mr. Stoni John. According to Mr. Frank Julius the fight was about “office politics”. He denied being involved in the panga wielding incident as at that time he was at his home village in Zomba. He denied saying the words “muwona zimene anawona Chasowa”. He told the Commission that he resigned from his position in August 2011. The Commission established that Mr. Frank Julius lied on this aspect because according to Mr. Noel Masangwi, DPP Regional Governor, whom the Commission interviewed subsequently, Mr. Frank Julius resigned from his position not earlier than December 2011. Mr. Kamlepo Kalua told the Commission that he knew Robert. At some point Robert and his friends went to him to ask for information on political issues to publish. He confirmed that he gave them the information they needed. On the night of 23rd September, 2011 Mr. Kalua spoke to Robert on several occasions. He first spoke to him around 5 pm and then around 9 pm. The last time he spoke to him was around 10 pm. He said that Robert told him that he feared for his life because of the articles and that he wanted to flee from campus and go to Lilongwe. Mr. Kalua advised him to remain on campus. Explaining Robert’s death Mr. Kalua told the Commission that he thought that Robert’s friends Duncan Phiri and Phaniso Mhone might have betrayed him. He also thought that there were DPP functionaries at the Polytechnic who might have been involved in planning the death of Robert. He mentioned in particular Dr. James Buliyani, a lecturer at the Polytechnic. He also mentioned Mr. Moffat Banda a friend to Dr. Buliyani.
Mr. Humphrey Mvula told the Commission that he was one of the organisers of the 20th July demonstrations. He confirmed to the Commission that after those
54
demonstrations they were planning for other demonstrations on 17th August, 2011. He said while they were at Mr. Rafik Hajat’s Office planning for the demonstrations on a certain day, three young men came to them. The young men warned them that their names were on the Government hit list and advised them to call off the 17th August demonstrations. He later learnt that one of those young men was Robert Chasowa.
As regards Robert’s death, Mr. Mvula told the Commission that there were two groups of civilians assisted by the MPS who were involved. One group was from Ndirande and the other group was from Bangwe. He mentioned Mr. Dolph Botomani, Mr. Sam Chulu and Amos3
3 Last name not provided as the Ndirande group. According to Mr. Mvula, Mr. Botomani almost confessed to him to have taken part in Robert’s murder and that they were working under a DPP network involving Mr. Noel Masangwi and Mr. Lewis Ngalande. Mr. Mvula also said the Bangwe group included Mr. Mike Chitenje, also known as Bangwe One and Mr. Isaac Osman, also known as Mtopwa One. He also said that this Bangwe group was in a network involving Honourable Professor Peter Mutharika. Mr. Mvula informed the Commission that Mr. Mike Chitenje had been paid K6 million which was paid through his First Discount House (FDH) Bank account and that this money had been used to purchase a truck. The money had apparently come from the State House. The Commission obtained the bank statements from FDH Bank of Mr. Mike Chitenje’s accounts, trading as Mulanje Last Boxing Promotions and Bangwe One Investments. With regard to the Mulanje Last Boxing Promotions bank account, for the period dating from 2nd September 2011 to 2nd July, 2012, there were transactions ranging from K20,000.00 to K5 million. The Bank could not provide the deposit slips for the period 4th October 2011 to 30th March 2012 which are said to be missing. The Commission was curious that the deposit slips for the 6 months were missing. The Bangwe One Investments bank account has transactions ranging from K10, 000.00 to K2, 500, 000.00. The Commission noted that the business was registered with the Registrar General on 23rd September, 2011 and the bank account was opened on 10th October, 2011. Three deposit slips for this account are said to be missing. The bank statements are attached as Annex 18.
55
According to Mr. Mvula, the MPS assisted the two groups above under the supervision of Sub/Inspector Yuda. Mr. Mvula further told the Commission that there were also two Zimbabwean hit men who were working with the Police. He said that the two Zimbabweans were accommodated at Michiru Lodge and Mkango Lodge in Blantyre. On the fateful night Robert is alleged to have been identified by a Polytechnic lecturer Mr. Nazombe. He was then grabbed by a team wearing KAMU Guard Services uniform. Mr. Mike Chitenje testified before the Commission. He told the Commission that Mr. Sam Chulu, Mr. Dolph Botomani and Mr. Petros Tembo were demanding money from Mr. Noel Masangwi. The three went to the DPP office in Blantyre demanding K1 million and a vehicle each from Mr. Noel Masangwi. Knowing these three, Mr. Mike Chitenje wondered what kind of business they would have done to warrant payment of such a huge sum of money. He denied knowing Robert Chasowa and any involvement in his death. The Commission interviewed Mr. Sam Chulu. He denied knowing Robert Chasowa and any involvement in his death. Mr. Petros Tembo appeared before the Commission and denied knowledge of Robert Chasowa and said that he was not involved in his death. He told the Commission that he is into debt collection business. He also occasionally travels to the Republic of South Africa to buy commodities for sale. He told the Commission that he worked closely with Mr. Dolph Botomani. He also told the Commission that together with Mr. Dolph Botomani they registered a debt collection business styled BODO Debt Collectors with the Registrar General. He could not recall where he was in September 2011. He heard about Robert Chasowa’s death through the radio.
Mr. Dolph Botomani also appeared before the Commission. He said he frequently travels to the Republic of South Africa to buy commodities for sale. He said that around 23rd September, 2011 he was either in the Republic of South Africa or on his way back from there. That is when he heard about the death. He confirmed to the Commission that he knew Mr. Petros Tembo. He did not do business together with Mr. Petros Tembo. He had travelled with him to the Republic of South Africa only once. The Commission noted that this was unlike the impression given by Mr. Petros Tembo. As regards the registration of BODO Debt Collectors business, he said the matter was left with Mr. Petros Tembo. He was not sure whether the business was registered at all.
56
The Commission heard from Detective Sergeant Hannah Senduwa. She told the Commission that during the night of 23rd September, 2011 she was on duty at SRPH. Also present were fellow police officers from Limbe Police station. These were, Officer in Charge, Deputy Commissioner George Dziko, Inspector Benard Ali Ukasha, Assistant Superintendent Pax Justin Thavi, Inspector Maria Gomani, Sub/Inspector Francis Sandramu and Constable Stanford Horea. At the SRPH they found some senior police officers. These were the then RCIO Stanley Chaima, UCIO Superintendent Caroline Jere, Deputy Commissioner Lexa Chalera, Commissioner Rodney Jose, Assistant Commissioner Dave Chingwalu, Deputy Commissioner Willie Mwaluka, the IG and Sub/Inspector George Mwalilino. She also noticed the presence of civilians, Mr. Noel Masangwi, Mr. Lewis Ngalande, Mr. Mike Chitenje, Mr. Isaac Osman and Mr. Stoni John. She asked Sub/Inspector Mwalilino, who she was with, what was happening. He told her that that was the group which was looking for Robert Chasowa. Sub/Inspector Mwalilino explained to her that Robert Chasowa was part of the group that had been hired to prevent protests and was insisting on the money that his group had been promised. After a while the civilians left in a black Prado accompanied by Constable Stanford Horea. They soon returned with a young man who was gagged. They were using shock sticks to subdue him. She recognised the young man as Robert Chasowa. She recognised him because he was taking the same Mechanical Engineering course as her daughter at the Polytechnic. Shortly thereafter Robert was taken back to the car. Constable Horea told her that they were taking him to Mr. Noel Masangwi’s house for further investigations. The group returned around 02.30 am without Robert. According to Detective Sergeant Senduwa, Constable Horea said “ife tathana naye kukakhala kuyankha akayankha ndi ma bwana, bola ife ndalama ayike ku bank (we are through with him, the bosses will be answerable; provided our money is deposited in our bank accounts)”
Detective Sergeant Senduwa further said she heard Mr. Stoni John and Mr. Mike Chitenje saying “atimva, tipanga zazikulu, bola ife tamponya, akamamutola, Mr Chaima alembe msanga makalata okaika mzovala kuti information should agree with Mr Mwaluka’s statement” (we have done our bit
57
and dumped him, now it is up to Mr Chaima to write the notes to put in his clothes so that Mr Mwaluka’s statement can be supported). The following morning she heard that Robert Chasowa had been found dead at the Polytechnic campus. According to her, most of the officers who were involved that night were subsequently promoted. The Commission interviewed all the police officers that Detective Sergeant Senduwa mentioned. All the Police Officers, except two denied being at the SRPH on the night of 23rd September, 2011. Inspector Gomani and Sub/Inspector Mwalilino agreed that indeed there was a meeting at the SRPH on this night and that some officers from Limbe Police Station and Lilongwe came to the SRPH.
58
CHAPTER SIX
FINDINGS
This Chapter presents the findings of the Commission. The findings are based on the testimony of witnesses interviewed by the Commission. Some of the findings are based on the observations of the Commission as it interviewed the witnesses. The findings are also based on the contents of the post-mortem examination Report. The Commission also made a further analysis of the post-mortem examination photographs. Some of the findings are based on such analysis. It will be recalled that the Commission visited the scene where Robert’s body was found and the surrounding premises on three occasions. The Commission has also made findings based on these visits. The Commission also researched for relevant documents including newspaper reports, phone records, bank statements, passport and motor vehicle registration details. All these have also informed the findings.
(a)The identity of Robert Chasowa
Robert Chasowa was the third born child of Mr. Austin Kings Chasowa, of Chembe Village, T/A Msakambewa in Dowa and Mrs Chrissie Rabecca Chasowa, of Kachere Village, T/A Maganga in Salima. Robert was born on 20th March, 1986 in Blantyre. He was a 4th year Mechanical Engineering student at the Malawi Polytechnic. He was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and also a member of the Fountain of Victory Ministry. His hobbies included playing football, drama, reading and writing poetry. He was a friendly and amiable person, courageous and ambitious. Robert aspired for leadership. He was passionate about most things he got involved in. He could also be temperamental. He was close to his family.
(b)Friends and Associates
Robert’s childhood friends included Alex Black Moses and Duncan Phiri.
59
On the Polytechnic campus his friends were Lydia Jere, Innocent Sulani, his roommate, Allan Chipwere, Fred Dickson and Ndagha Mkandawire. He was very close to Ndagha. Off campus his friends were Justice Kangulu and Darlington Miseleni. His associates were Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone, Justice Kangulu and Alex Black Moses. Although Phiri and Moses were his childhood friends he only reconnected with them whilst at the Polytechnic. He also associated with Mr. Stuart Potiphar Chirambo and Mr. Trouble Kalua through football. His girlfriend was Ms. Lillian White.
(c) Political activism
The Commission established that Robert worked together with Alex Black Moses in an organisation styled YFD. YFD published a Weekly Political Update which was critical of the Government and its leadership. Robert and Alex Black Moses were personally involved in the distribution of the materials. The Commission established that Robert was not happy with the workings of the Government and its leadership. He perceived the country as being run by a “bunch of hypocrites, puppets who could not match their action and voice, a bunch of opportunists who made money out of blood, corrupt and hungry for power”. Robert perceived himself as an agent of change as confirmed by the entry of 11th August, 2011 in his diary. Thus, although Robert was part of the plan to prevent the 17th August, 2011 demonstrations his resolve was to work against the Government.
(d)Interaction with politicians
The Commission confirmed that Robert and Alex Black Moses interacted with Mr. Kamlepo Kalua from whom they obtained materials for the publications. On 18th July, 2011, according to Robert’s phone records and his diary, he spoke with Honourable Professor Peter Mutharika.
60
(e) Interaction with the Police
After the events of 20th July, 2011, Robert came into contact with the Police through Duncan Phiri. Robert, Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone and Justice Kangulu conceived a plan to prevent the 17th August demonstrations. On 7th August they presented their plan to the IG at his residence in Area 30 in Lilongwe. This was in the presence of Commissioner Jose who had driven them to Lilongwe. The IG was persuaded by their plan whereupon he gave each of them K50, 000.00. He instructed Commissioner Jose to look into the rest of their requirements. Upon returning to Blantyre, Commissioner Jose hired a vehicle for them and also gave them K300, 000.00 for office accommodation and for other activities. Upon hearing the testimony of the group and that of the IG and Commissioner Jose, the Commission could not confirm on the available evidence that there was a promise for payment of K10 million. However from the testimony of the IG it was clear to the Commission that the Police were going to pay the group some money from the MPS Criminal Investigation Fund on successful completion of the assignment. The Police found out that the group had failed to convince the CSOs and UNIMA students to prevent the demonstrations. The Police terminated the assignment and took their own initiative to prevent the demonstrations. The Police did not pay the group the expected money. The Commission has established that upon refusal by the Police to pay the expected money the group was very angry, especially Robert and Duncan. Robert and Duncan Phiri pestered the IG and Commissioner Jose for the payment. The Police did not yield to the demands for payment. At that point the group disbanded. The Commission established that prior to the group’s engagement with the Police, Robert had been involved with Alex Black Moses in the publication and distribution of the YFD Weekly Political Update, a publication critical of the Government and its leadership. When the group disbanded, Robert rejoined Alex Black Moses in the publication and distribution of the Weekly Political Update.
61
The Commission established that this time Robert was even more determined than before in criticizing the Government and its leadership. He resolved that he would be the person to bring about change. Robert’s resolve is shown by the aggressive contents of the publications and the appendage of his mobile phone number thereon from Volume 3A. The Commission established that on 19th September, 2011 Robert and Alex Black Moses went to NPL offices in Blantyre to deliver a copy of Volume 6A of the publication for inclusion in the Nation newspaper to ensure a wider circulation. They also had copies of the publication which they were distributing to the public. The Commission further established that when Volume 6A was received by Mr. Bester Saopa, a DPP functionary, the matter was reported to Mr. Mwapasa, the former Presidential Guard Commander, who reported to Commissioner Jose. This led to the arrest of Alex Black Moses. Alex Black Moses implicated Robert. Robert then became a wanted person by the Police.
(f) Date and time of death
The Commission has not been able to establish the exact time of death. The Commission finds that Robert was alive as at 00.30 am on 24th September, 2011. The Commission finds that Ndagha’s testimony that Robert left her room at 03.33 am was not credible. Ndagha informed the Commission that she had drunk this evening. From her testimony the Commission was of the clear view that Ndagha had drunk excessively that night such that her recollection of the events of this night must have been impaired. The Commission also finds that Robert’s body was found lying on a concrete pavement behind the Administration block near the Accounts office at about 03.40 am at the Polytechnic campus. He was confirmed dead by Mrs. Madulila at about 05.00 am on the same 24th September, 2011. The Commission therefore finds that Robert died after 00.30 am and before 03.40 am on 24th September, 2011.
62
(g)Exact place of death
The Commission was unable to establish the exact place of death. From the evidence available, as detailed in paragraph 2.2.5, the Commission finds that Robert was assaulted elsewhere and his body brought to the site where it was found. It is also very likely that Robert was already dead when he was brought to the site, based on the nature of the injuries which are described later in the post-mortem examination findings. The Commission finds that there was ample opportunity of bringing Robert’s body to where it was found owing to the lapse in the security arrangements at the Polytechnic campus.
(h)Cause and nature of death
The Commission established that Robert died of intra-cerebral haemorrhage i.e. bleeding inside the skull and brain. This bleeding was the result of trauma to the skull as a result of assault.
(i) Results of post-mortem examination
The results of the post-mortem examination confirmed the cause of death as stated above i.e. intra-cerebral haemorrhage as a result of trauma to the skull. Robert was assaulted with a blunt instrument to the skull causing fractures of several skull bones leading to bleeding inside the skull and brain. The Commission established, based on the post-mortem examination report and photographs, that Robert was assaulted to the head at least three times resulting into the bone fractures referred to above.
(j) Alleged suicide notes
The Commission acknowledges the presence of the alleged suicide notes and also acknowledges the opinions of the handwriting expert from the MPS and the Forensic Document Examiner of the South African Police Service.
The Commission finds however that the theory of suicide is not supported by any evidence, whatsoever, before the Commission other than the mere presence of the alleged suicide notes. To the contrary, from all the
63
attendant circumstances and the evidence obtained by the Commission, Robert was killed.
(k)Conduct of the Polytechnic Administration
The Commission finds that there was laxity in the way the matter was handled after the Administration learnt that the police were looking for Robert on grave criminal allegations. It is the position of the Commission that, as guardians of a student in their institution, the Administration should have escorted Robert to the SRPH which is only a few hundred meters away from the Polytechnic campus. In that way they would have formally confirmed why Robert was being sought after. This would have ensured Robert’s safety in the hands of the Police. The Commission finds that when the Polytechnic Administration were made aware of Robert’s death, they properly and promptly responded to the incident. The Commission finds that the Polytechnic Administration were outsourcing security services from two private security companies, namely, KAMU Guard Services and SFGS. The Commission further finds that there was lack of coordination between the Polytechnic security supervisors and the security guard providers. The Polytechnic did not maintain a proper record of the number and names of guards present and where they were positioned in relation to the deployment roster. There was total laxity such that the security guard providers were functioning on their own. As a result of this laxity and lack of coordination, guards who were deployed at critical places such as the front entrance to Hyrid Hostel where Robert was last seen alive and the one who was guarding the area where Robert’s body was discovered have not been found. The Commission finds that had the Polytechnic ensured that the guard who was deployed at the area where the body was discovered was present on duty this night, he would have been the person to explain how the body came to be there.
64
The Commission finds that there is uncertainty as to whether there was a guard at the Dispensary area that night and who this guard might have been. This uncertainty would have been avoided with proper supervision on the part of the Polytechnic on the deployment of guards. The Commission established that at the time of the incident there were no gates at the entrances, notably the entrance leading to Hyrid Hostel and the one leading to where the body was found. In addition, the security lighting around the hostels was inadequate. Gates have since been installed at all entrances and the security lighting system has been improved. The Commission failed to establish how Mr. Victor Mandiwe found the alleged second suicide note because he was not interviewed as he was reported to be in the Republic of South Africa. The Commission agrees with Mr. Allan Chipwere that had this large note, written on size A3 paper, been on Robert’s bed, Allan would not have failed to see it. The Commission therefore finds that the second note could not have been on Robert’s bed. The Commission was not able to establish how the handset that Robert used that night while in Ndagha’s room, was found in his locker in his room early in the morning of 24th September, 2011. The Commission finds that the Polytechnic negligently handled the mobile phone issue. The phone should have been handed over to the Police for appropriate investigations. The Commission finds that the issue of Robert’s room key was negligently handled. After the key was discovered in his pocket the Polytechnic Administration gave it to and left it with another student. The key should have been handed over to the Police as part of the evidence in the matter.
The Commission established that most of the major political parties in Malawi have political wings at the Polytechnic. The Commission finds that the interaction between these wings was not always cordial. In some instances it led to violence between the factions, which has been
65
described by one witness as “savage politics”. The Commission agrees with these observations. The Commission established that the system for quickly locating students in times of urgent need at the Polytechnic is not properly maintained. This is demonstrated by the fact that when the Police came to look for Robert Chasowa, the Administration could not trace him on the information on his file which had since changed.
(l) Conduct of the Police
The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi in section 153(1) provides that the Malawi Police Service shall be an independent organ of the executive which shall be there to provide for the protection of public safety and the rights of persons in Malawi according to the prescriptions of the Constitution and any other law. Section 153 (2) further provides that the Malawi Police Service shall enjoy only such powers as are necessary for the protection of rights under the Constitution and the maintenance of public safety and public order in accordance with the prescriptions of the Constitution and the law. The Constitution further provides in section 158 (1) that members of the Malawi Police Service shall ensure that they exercise their functions, powers and duties as impartial servants of the general public and the Government of the day. Pursuant to these provisions section 4 of the Police Act, (Chapter 13:01) of the Laws of Malawi provides for the general functions of the Police. In particular, Section 4(1) of the Act provides that the Police service shall be employed in and throughout Malawi for the: (a) prevention, investigation and detection of crime; (b) apprehension and prosecution of offenders; (c) preservation of law and order; (d) protection of life, property, fundamental freedoms and rights of individuals,
66
(e) due enforcement of all laws with which the Police are directly charged; and (f) exercise or performance of such other powers. The Commission finds that when the incident was reported to the Police they responded promptly and went to the scene. The Commission finds however, that the Police did not take measures to preserve the scene and did not invite a medical examiner to examine the body before it was removed from the scene. The Commission further finds that the Police did not act diligently enough. They did not immediately summon any of the guards who were on duty on this night for questioning. Had the Police done so, the critical guards who are now missing would have been questioned. In that way useful information about the events of the night of 23rd – 24th September, 2011 would not have been lost. The Commission finds that Detective Sub/Inspector Chambwinja lied to the Commission when he testified that Mr. Dindo Malipilo told him that he saw a person going up the stairs to the corridor above the scene of the incident just before he heard the groaning. The Commission finds that there was heavy presence of senior Police officers from the SRPH and the National Police Headquarters during the post-mortem examination. The Commission finds that the Police did not give the family the option of being present during the post-mortem examination. The Commission also finds that the Pathologist was given unsolicited information in the form of the alleged suicide note after the post-mortem examination. The Commission finds this to have been a deliberate attempt on the part of the Police to influence the decision of the Pathologist to perpetuate the suicide theory.
The Commission finds that the Press Statement was issued on the instructions of the IG. The Commission further finds that the contents of the Press Statement were put together by Senior Assistant Commissioner
67
Mwaluka. The Commission also finds that the IG approved the contents of the Press Statement before it was released. The Commission finds that the Press Statement concludes that Robert committed suicide by jumping from an upstairs corridor. It refers to the final post-mortem examination results as supporting this conclusion. The Commission finds that this Press Statement creates the impression that at the time it was made there was already a final post-mortem examination report, which was not the case. The final report was released on 4th October, 2011. The Commission finds that the first police officers on the scene of the incident suspected that the death was a result of foul play. The Commission further finds that senior police officers advanced the suicide theory as the likely cause of death upon finding the alleged suicide note, but they did not completely rule out the possibility of foul play. In fact they recommended further investigations. The Commission finds that the Press Statement ruled out the possibility of foul play. The Commission finds that at the time the Press Statement was made, it had not yet been determined by a handwriting expert that the alleged suicide note was written by Robert. The Press Statement nonetheless determined that suicide was the cause of death. As a result of the Press Statement, on 26th September, 2011 the Police formally closed further investigations of the matter. The Commission finds that Dr. Dzamalala’s reaction to the Press Statement denying the issuance of a final post-mortem examination report brought the matter into the public domain. This, together with the final report which contradicted the Press Statement, prompted the Police to reopen the case for further investigations. The Commission finds the conduct of the Police in prematurely releasing the Press Statement reprehensible. The Commission determined that the only plausible reason why the Police wanted to close this matter prematurely was to conceal the fact that Robert was murdered.
68
The Commission finds that the manner in which the Police handled the scene of the incident and the post-mortem examination was inherently unprofessional. The premature release and the nature of the Press Statement were obviously calculated to suppress the truth. The Commission finds that the Police handled the whole case in total and glaring disregard of their functions and responsibilities. The deliberate flouting of basic procedure and the marked attempt to conceal facts of the case is cause for serious concern. The Commission finds that the matter was reopened for further investigation but only two guards have been interviewed. A second independent expert opinion on the authorship of the alleged suicide note has been obtained. The matter was referred to Interpol on 17th October, 2011 to take over the investigations. The Police have not followed this up in earnest. The Commission is of the view that reference of the case to Interpol was without genuineness and merely to cause the impression that something was being done about the matter in order to shed off blame.
(m)Conduct of politicians
The Commission established that Robert and Alex Black Moses formed YFD in 2010 and started producing the YFD publications in mid 2011. These publications were critical of the Government and its leadership. The Commission finds that the information for the publications was provided to them by Mr. Kamlepo Kalua. The Commission established that Robert was responsible for the printing of the publications and that together with Alex Black Moses they distributed the same. The Commission finds that when Robert joined Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone and Justice Kangulu in June 2011 in NVYO in their involvement with the Police, he did not renounce his involvement in YFD.
The Commission finds that when their involvement with the Police was abruptly terminated and without the group receiving payment as expected, Robert felt used. He then reverted to the production of anti-government publications with Alex Black Moses. The Commission further finds that this time Robert was more determined than before to work against the government. Robert’s resolve was manifested in the aggressive nature of Volumes 3A to 6A of the Weekly Political Update.
69
To further demonstrate his resolve, on 19th September, 2011 Robert and Alex Black Moses went to NPL offices in Blantyre to deliver a copy of Volume 6A of the publication for inclusion of the publication in the Nation newspaper to ensure wider circulation. The Commission finds that on 19th September, 2011, Volume 6A of the publications which was extremely critical of the Government and its leadership, landed in the hands of DPP functionaries. The functionaries instructed the Police to hunt for Alex Black Moses and subsequently for Robert. The Commission finds that while Government was making efforts to manage the difficult situation the country was going though in the years 2010 and 2011, DPP functionaries were working to intimidate and/or silence their critics. The Commission finds that the torching of Balaka Market and Mr. Rafik Hajat’s Office was by a DPP functionary. The Commission further finds that DPP youth cadets drove around the streets of Blantyre to intimidate those that had planned to demonstrate on 20th July, 2011. The Commission finds that there were meetings held by DPP functionaries planning, among other things “kumphwetsa” (to silence) Robert. The Commission finds that Mr. Stoni John took part in the planning meetings of the DPP functionaries to silence Robert. The Commission further finds that at one of the meetings convened by DPP functionaries for Blantyre District, Mr. Frank Julius uttered the words “muwona zimene anawona Chasowa” (you will be dealt with the way Chasowa was). The Commission finds, from Mr. Frank Julius’s statement, that the plan to silence Robert had been executed.
The Commission finds that Mr. Stoni John, who bolted before he was interviewed, told Mr. Chimera that Mr. Dolph Botomani and Mr. Sam Chulu are the persons who inflicted the fatal injuries on Robert. The Commission noted that these two were also mentioned by other
70
witnesses. In the testimony of Mr. Humphrey Mvula, Mr. Dolph Botomani almost confessed to have taken part in the killing of Robert. The other persons that were mentioned to the Commission as being involved in the murder of Robert are Mr. Mike Chitenje, Mr. Petros Tembo and Amos. Mr Noel Masangwi and Mr. Lewis Ngalande were also mentioned. Some Police officers were also mentioned, namely, Constable Stanford Horea and Sub/Inspector Yuda. The Commission finds that during the week beginning 19th September, 2011, in particular on 23rd September, 2011, Robert spoke to several people that he was fearing for his life on account of the YFD publications. In an attempt to conceal his whereabouts during this week, Robert changed his mobile phone number several times. Robert was being sought by the Police at the instance of the DPP functionaries who were not happy with the publications.
(n) Circumstances of death
From the testimony of the witnesses and analysis of the evidence, the Commission can summarise the circumstances of Robert’s death in this way. Robert was seized in the early hours of 24th September, 2011, after leaving Ndagha’s room, on his way to his hostel. He was gagged. His resistance was overcome by the use of shock sticks. The information that Robert was on campus on this night must have come from persons within campus. Robert was led away. He was assaulted to the head at least three times. Robert died as a result of the injuries sustained from the assault. His body was brought to the Polytechnic and dumped at the site where it was later discovered.
(o) Identity of possible suspects
The Commission, on the testimony and evidence before it, has identified the following persons as possible suspects:
1. Mr. Dolph Geoffrey Botomani
2. Mr. Petros Tembo
71
3. Mr. Sam Chulu
4. Mr. Stoni John
5. Mr. Mike Chitenje
6. Mr. Isaac Osman
7. Mr. Frank Julius
8. Mr. Noel Masangwi
9. Mr. Lewis Ngalande
10.Mr. Elias Phiri
11.Mr. Harry Makina
12.Mr. Chikondi Mwamvera
13.Constable Stanford Horea
14.Sub/Inspector Yuda
15.Amos
72
CHAPTER SEVEN
RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Malawi Police Service
Bearing in mind the mandate and powers of the MPS as provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and the Police Act (Cap. 13:01) of the Laws of Malawi, the Commission recommends to the Malawi Police Service as follows:
(a) In the conduct of their duty the Malawi Police Service is expected to live up to the dictates of the Constitution and as provided for under the Police Act. Primary is the fact that the Malawi Police Service is an independent organ of the executive and, therefore, in the exercise of duty towards the protection of the rights of the public, the Police must conduct itself with independence and impartiality. The Police must desist from being used in furtherance of any political agenda.
(b)The Police should exercise its powers for the protection of persons and property.
(c) In the performance of its duties the Police should always adhere to the procedures provided for that purpose. These procedures include those provided for the processing of incident scenes, collecting and preserving evidence and interviewing witnesses.
(d)The Police must investigate every matter that is reported to it. The investigations must be conducted and finalised in a professional and timely manner. The Police must not make conclusions before investigations are completed.
(e)Where the Police is going to make a public statement on any matter, it is critical that the statement contains information that is accurate and a true reflection of the situation. Police should desist from the impropriety of concealing the truth.
73
(f) While the Police is entitled to request for post-mortem examination in cases of unnatural death, the Police should inform relatives of the deceased and give them the opportunity to be present during the examination.
(g)Post-mortem examination is meant to obtain independent professional findings by a Pathologist. The Police should, under no circumstances, attempt to influence the opinion of the medical experts by offering unsolicited information in order to establish the cause of death.
The Commission further recommends that:
(h)The Police should continue and complete the investigations on Robert Chasowa’s death as a case of homicide. In view of the time that has lapsed since Robert’s death, the investigations must be done with speed and completed as soon as possible.
(i) If the investigation establishes that any person is responsible for causing the death of Robert Chasowa, such person(s) must be prosecuted within a reasonable time.
2. The Malawi Polytechnic Administration
The Commission recommends to the Malawi Polytechnic Administration as follows:
(a) The system for tracing students in times of urgent need should be updated regularly.
(b)The Polytechnic Administration should take more responsibility over students’ welfare. In instances where a student is wanted by the Police, the Administration should accompany the student when being taken to the Police in order for them to be informed of why the student is wanted and also to ensure the safety of the student in the hands of the Police.
74
(c) There must be proper supervision of security guards and coordination between the Polytechnic Administration and the security guard providers.
3. Political parties and politicians
The Commission recommends to political parties and politicians as follows:
(a) Political parties, politicians or individuals should not use the MPS in the exercise of their functions, powers and duties to further their political agenda or to undermine those of others.
(b)Political parties, politicians or individuals should not use the MPS as a tool for intimidating, silencing or eliminating political opponents.
(c) Political parties, politicians or individuals should desist from exploiting students in order to advance their political agenda

: