…NGO demands Mutharika to initiate probe
Malawi Police officers have been accused of raping women and teenage girls at Msundwe and Mpingu in Lilongwe.
Residents of the trading centres have told a civil society organization that the officers raped women and girls when the law enforcers were deployed to the area to arrest suspects.
The NGO Gender Coordination Network (NGO-GCN) in a statement today signed by its Chairperson Barbara Banda and National Coordinator Joseph Njala has demanded an investigation into the matter.
On October 8, residents of Mpingu and Msundwe mounted illegal roadblocks on the Mchinji-Lilongwe road. The Police rushed to the scene to disperse the group but one of the police officers Usuman Imedi was killed during the fracas.
The next day, officers were deployed to the trading centres to arrest suspects.
During the operation, police officers raped and sexually abused women and self-boarding girl students. They also tortured people and looted private property.
One woman told the NGO that five police officers invaded her house about 300 metres away from Mpingu Trading Centre. They kicked the door and threw teargas in the house where she was hiding with her children.
The officers then ordered the woman to go and confine herself into her bedroom and forced her daughter, to take off her clothes at the sitting room.
“I took off my clothes in front of the officer, leaving out an underwear only. He then started beating me for refusing to take off my underwear. I have been bedridden for five days nursing the pain and I don’t even know whether I am okay internally as I have not gone for medical check-up,” she stated.
The police officers also invaded a neighbouring house, after noticing three female self-boarders from Mpingu Community Day Secondary School running into the house to hide.
Three of the officers went into the house while a fourth one walked around the door, warning all neighbours to stay in their houses. A fifth police officer, who was female, at this time retreated to a stationary police vehicle.
The three officers who had entered the house ordered all the three girls to take off all their clothes, including underwear. Two of the girls were then told to leave the house upon noticing that they were having their menstruation period but the other one was ordered to follow the officers to the bedroom.
“One of the officers forced himself onto the girl. At this point, the 16-year-old was crying incessantly attracting the attention of the neighbors who were able to hear the girl say ‘mundipweteka, mundipweteka chonde’ (you are hurting me),” the organization said in its statement.
It added that the girl who was raped went missing for two days but she is now back although she is still traumatised.
In another incident, a team of police officers invaded Mvuu Village in Traditional Authority M’bwatalika where they stripped a newly-wedded woman naked.
According to the organisation, the officers fondled the woman’s private parts and from her submissions it was evident that she was raped.
During the interview with the organization, the woman seemed traumatised woman and she struggled to finish her sentences.
“Anandivula mwankhanza ndi kuchita zawozo. Ine ndinangoti basi nanga n’kutani poti ifeyo tilibe mphamvu (They stripped me naked and sexually abused me. I resigned myself to my fate since I have no power),” she said.
The officers also threw teargas in every direction, including shops and residential compounds and houses. They also raided and looted shops including one owned by Farmers World and bottle stores.
“The foregoing, stands at odds with the noble mandate and values, associated with the character of a police service,” NGO-GCN said.
It added that the incidents at Msundwe and surrounding areas further erode trust and respect which the police service deserves.
The NGO-GCN has since asked President Arthur Peter Mutharika to ensure the Police initiates thorough investigations and punish all culprits.
The organization has also demanded the Inspector General of Police to ensure thorough and unimpeded investigations are instituted forthwith.
“We want to see the perpetrators behind bars upon satisfying all legal channels and proceedings,” the organization said.