Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Nsanje South parliamentary aspirant in the May 21 elections Helen Buluma says she could have been killed by her opponents’ supporters who mobbed her as she wanted to vote.
Buluma says she is lucky to be alive following the incident which happened at Dinde School polling centre.
“On Tuesday, 21 May, 2019 at 2:00pm, I arrived at Dinde School centre in the company of my husband and cousins who escorted me to vote.
“Whilst our party monitor escorted me to the right polling stream, I noticed one of the Assistant Presiding Officers, Charity Ntiza, a direct sister to one of the Parliamentary candidates, Eurita Mtiza Valeta, ticking ballot papers on behalf of two elderly women,” she narrated.
She said in a bid to follow protocol in launching her complaint of the anomalies that she noticed, she used her party monitors to liaise with the authorities at the centre.
“Aware that it would be a good conduct for me to confront her directly, I called two of my monitors and asked them why they were allowing such practices to happen and I asked them to speak to Presiding Officer,” she told the story.
“I then, proceeded to the identification desk when my phone rang. As I reached out to answer the incoming call, I heard Charity Ntiza scream out to her sisters’ monitors saying that I was taking pictures for evidence,” she continued.
Buluma added: “Within seconds, I realized I was mobbed, grabbed, being pushed, beaten, half undressed, my glasses removed and others tried to snatch away my phone.”
According to Buluma, the polling security staff managed to break through the crowd and lead her off to their car where another mob had surrounded the vehicle refusing husband and her to get in but eventually they managed to get in the car and drove off to Nsanje police station where she gave her statement.
“I was physically and emotionally hurt. I thank God for saving my life, it’s by the grace of God that I am still alive, the attack was enough to take my life,” the DPP candidate narrated her ordeal.
In an interview, Nsanje Police Station Officer-in-Charge of Criminal Investigation Department, Assistant Superintendent Freedom Sakala confirmed having written statement for Buluma.
“Yes, she came to Nsanje police that she was beaten up by her opponent’s supporters. They opened her car and went away with party cloth but also undressed her in the presence of the mob,” said the Nsanje CID head.
In a Press Release, A Call for Action on Nsanje Incident, dated May 22, signed by its Executive Director, Assam Golowa, 50-50 Campaign Management Agency called for a swift and comprehensive action from relevant authorities against those who were involved in the beating.
“We do not condone people taking the law into their own hands and vehemently condemn this, and all incidences of VAWE (Violence Against Women) We hope that police will quickly conclude their investigation and ensure that justice is done, timely,” reads part of the press release.
Another group, Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), condemned the assault and asked the relevant authorities to take drastic measures in dealing with proponents of the assault.
In her statement following the assault and public humiliation, MESN’s board chairperson Emma Kaliya said the act was criminal and the offenders need to be published for perpetrating violence against women.
On Friday, President Peter Mutharika condemned the assault and harassment of Buluma saying it’s against human rights and he criticised Human Rights Defenders Coalition for being silent over the rights violation.
Mutharika who is also DPP President launched the condemnation on Friday while delivering his inaugural speech at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre City setting a second term journey of five years office.
“We have seen Helen Buluma, a Member of Parliament candidate beaten to faint and left for dead just because she spoke justice in presence of evil. And yet, the so-called Human Rights Defenders remained silent simply because she is a member of DPP,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika said violence and assaults that DPP members have suffered are uncalled for and praised the DPP members for keeping calm saying it has prevented chaos.
“I want to thank all members of the DPP for responding with extreme restraint when we were provoked and attacked,” said the DPP leader.
Mutharika then called on Malawians to unite despite belonging to diverse ethnic groups, religions, parties and beliefs in order to develop the country.