Police disperse congregants in Balaka

Police officers in Balaka on Sunday stormed churches and told worshippers to go back home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Police officers were enforcing a ban on church gatherings which government effected over two weeks ago.

The law enforcers chased away congregants in several churches, including places of worship where preventive measures were put in place.

Spokesperson for the police in the Eastern Region Joseph Sauka said the law enforcers plan to conduct similar operations in other districts in the regions.

He added that they will also be targeting places such as bars and other entertainment centres.

Meanwhile, the Public Affairs Committee has faulted the police saying the police are targeting churches.

PAC spokesperson Bishop Gilford Matonga argued that the operation was illegal since the court granted an injunction against a lockdown which government planned to institute.

“Chasing away worshippers in churches where preventive measures have been instituted is wrong.

“We ask the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus to condemn the law enforcers’ actions,” said Matonga.

On 9 April, Government through the Ministry of Local Government banned church gatherings but since the ban was instituted, it was not being enforced.

On April 14, the government announced a 21-day lockdown but the move was blocked by an injunction which the Human Rights Defenders Coalition obtained.

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