Msundwe rape scandal: Arrest police officers and cadets within 30 days

Human Rights activists have hailed as the High Court ruling that Malawi Police officers and ex-Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets who raped women at Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu should be arrested within 30 days.

Social Justice Network described as a landmark the ruling delivered today in Lilongwe by the Malawi High Court judge, Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda.

“We agree with the High Court ruling that the Malawi police should now set off a comprehensive investigation to identify all perpetrators, whether police officers or party supporters, who raped the women at Msundwe.

“While scars of rape can never be erased, justice for the victims can only be achieved if the perpetrators are identified and prosecuted,” tweeted Social Justice Network.

The court demands that a full investigation be completed within 30 days from the day of the ruling.

“It is important that the officers of the [Malawi Police service] that sexually assaulted and raped the Applicants and all other women and girls in M’bwatalika and Mpingu be arrested and prosecuted. I, therefore, order that this be done within a period of 30 days from the date hereof” ruled Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda.

In addition to being faulted for ignoring the case, the Malawi police have also been ordered to compensate the victims.

“It is irrelevant whether the perpetrators were police officers on duty, police officers acting outside of their duties or private individuals purporting to be police officers.

“Once the State was notified of the violations against [women at Msundwe, Mbwatalika and Mpingu], there arose a responsibility to take steps to investigate and prosecute those responsible whether there were police officers or not.

“In failing in this obligation, by failing to undertake a credible investigation, the State is liable for the human rights violations experienced by the [women at Msundwe, Mbwatalika and Mpingu] contrary to provisions in the Constitution and international law”, ruled Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda.

It is alleged the police and the then ruling DPP cadets went on spree to rape innocent women and girls as young as 14 during anti-government protests.

Some of the girls who were raped ended up being pregnant.

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