A report on the death of Buleya Lule released Wednesday has implicated nine police officers including Acting Commissioner for the Central Region Police Headquarters Evalista Chisale.
The nine are suspected to have taken a role in the death of Buleya who was arrested over the killing of a boy with albinism but died in police custody.
The other eight police officers recommended for criminal prosecution are Superintendent Paul Chipole; Sub-Inspector Ikram Malata; Inspector Ronnex Kapesa, Station Criminal Investigations Officer for Dedza Police Station; Inspector Mervin Gama; and four unidentified mobile police service officers from the C Division who escorted the suspect from the Lilongwe Principal Magistrate Court to Lilongwe Police Station.
The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said in the report that the criminal investigations should also cover those police officers and persons who may be revealed by the criminal investigations but were not covered by the Commission’s inquiry.
On 13th February 2019, a boy with albinism named Goodson Fanizo was abducted by unknown persons at his home in the area of Traditional Authority Chilikumwendo in Dedza District.
Two of the suspects arrested after the abduction claimed that Buleya was the one who sent them to kidnap the boy.
On 18th February, 2019, police arrested at his home at Mitundu Trading Centre and according to the commission he was in good health
The commission found that before taking Buleya to Lilongwe Police Station, the police took him to Mitundu, Kawale and Chitsime police formations for identification and further investigation. The Victim spent a night at Chitsime Police Unit together with the other two suspects namely Mr. Kumbilani Patson and Mr. Sainani Kalekeni.
“Sub-Inspector Ikram Malata led police officers that arrested the Victim at Mitundu. He also took an active role in the subsequent interrogations at Mitundu and Chitsime police formations.
“Detective Superintendent Chipole coordinated the interrogation of the Victim at Chitsime Police Unit and briefly participated in interrogating him and later left to attend to other official duties leaving Officer Malata and others to continue with the interrogations.
“Detective Inspector Ronnex Kapesa, Station Criminal Investigations Officer for Dedza Police Station, recorded the Victim’s caution statement at Lilongwe Police Station on Tuesday, 19th February, 2019,” the commission said in ots report.
It added that Buleya denied to have been involved in the abduction of Goodson during interrogation Fanizo and a review of the call logs between the Buleya and Sainani showed that there was no mobile phone communication between the two.
“Furthermore, despite the suspects (Sainani and Kumbilani) alleging that the Victim was driving a dark blue saloon vehicle on the day of abduction, it is the Commission’s finding that the Victim has never owned a vehicle nor did he know how to drive,” the report said.
“Both suspects had mentioned James Green in their statements to the police, as being the person who masterminded and took part in the abduction of Goodson Fanizo. James Green has not yet been arrested,”
On 19th February, Buleya was taken to the Central Region Police Headquarters by Detective Inspector Chavinda in the company of Detective Sub Inspector Chiwambo to appear before the Chisale and on Wednesday he appeared before Lilongwe Magistrates Court for plea by Officer Kampira.
The report said the victim walked out of the court on his own, albeit with difficulty and was helped into the vehicle by his co-accused.
On the way back to police, Constable (now Inspector) Mervin Gama was assigned to escort the suspects. Gama was in the company of four mobile police service officers from the C Division who were unknown to him.
“On arrival at the station, the Victim was motionless. He was taken out of the vehicle on a stretcher and put at the Custody Bay. His eyes were closed throughout the time he was at the Custody Bay. Detective Sub-Inspector Bosco Matete, Sergeant Tambala and Constable Mathambo took him to KCH.
“At KCH, the Victim was certified to have been brought in dead. The cause of death was intracranial haemorrhage according to Dr. Maurice Mulenga and Dr. Charles Dzamalala post-mortem examination reports. However, Dr. Charles Dzamalala went further to state that the intracranial haemorrhage was caused by torture and also that the immediate cause of death was electrocution,” the report said.
MHRC in its report has told the Inspector General of Police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to commence criminal proceedings against all police officers and such other persons suspected to have tortured the victim to death.
The rights body said the victim’s wife should sue the state to get compensation for loss of Buleya’s life.
MHRC has since asked the Secretary for Homeland Security to expedite the operationalization of the Independent Complaints Commission to investigate all elements of torture and violence by the police.