By Iommie Chiwalo

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s human rights watchdog, Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has bemoaned the continued unwarranted use of force on unarmed citizens and has since given Police Tsar George Kainja 14 days to institute investigations so as to bring all the culprits to book.

In a statement made available to this publication and signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa the brutal acts by the police are affecting unarmed citizens especially women, children and the elderly in the pretext of maintaining law and order when misunderstanding arise.

Namiwa says cases in point have involved locals and estate owners in the tea growing districts of Thyolo and Mulanje.

He cited an incident which happened early this month whereby the Police in Mulanje went on rampage in Mikundi Village, in Traditional Authority Mabuka’s area, demolishing houses, beating up innocent villagers and throwing tear gas canisters, allegedly in an effort to deal with vandalising and stealing of Seyama Tea Estate property as an example.

The CDEDI Executive Director is of the view that there is no justification of police using force on unarmed and helpless citizens; hence calling the conduct as regrettable looking at the animosity created by the police in Mulanje between the estate owners and the villagers.

“We fear the unprofessional handling of the villagers over the said matter has potential to deny the area peace, which everyone desires,” he says.

On the demise of Dinala Chiponde, who was beaten by the estate’s security guards, allegedly after finding him stealing trees belonging to the estate, Namiwa says CDEDI has noted the shameless attempt by Mulanje Police to let alleged looting and stealing of Seyama Tea Estate property overshadow the death of the deceased.

It is reported that the deceased breathed his last while receiving medical treatment at Mulanje District Hospital on September 4, 2021. 

“We do not condone stealing, but we categorically condemn use of unwarranted force on any suspect as we believe police and courts are readily available to handle such matters, lest we continue losing lives needlessly, as has happened in Mulanje,” says Namiwa

He says CDEDI believes that Malawi police have professional civil methods that are supposed to be used when searching for stolen property and/or dispersing or controlling crowds, unlike the use of tear gas and excessive force, which is turning out to be the norm. 

“The Mulanje incident reminds us of other acts, which include recent firing of teargas on learners at Luchenza Primary School and the terror police in Thyolo unleashed, three months ago, on 64-year-old Estele Maviyaje, fracturing her arm in the process,”

Meanwhile, CDEDI has challenged Lujeri Tea Estate, which owns Seyama Tea Estate, to devise a mechanism to reconcile with the company and community members, including helping the traumatised women, children and the elderly to recover from the unwarranted police brutality.

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