Msundwe rape scandal: High Court orders Malawi police to compensate victims

The Malawi High Court has ordered the Malawi Police to compensate women who were raped at Msundwe, Mbwatalika and Mpingu, saying the law enforcement agency failed in its duty and obligation to conduct an effective and credible investigation of the Msundwe rape scandal.

The Malawi Police officers and the then ruling Democratic progressive Party (DPP) cadets were accused of raping women at Msundwe, Mbwatalika and Mpingu in Lilongwe last year.

However, the Police looked away despite overwhelming evidence detailed in a joint report by the Malawi Human Rights Commission and the Ombudsman.

The police insinuated that perpetrators were either officers off duty or non-police officers. However, Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda faulted this reasoning in his judgement.

“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 [Msundwe women], 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 [women at Msundwe, Mbwatalika and Mpingu], contrary to provisions in the Constitution and international law.”

In its ruling, the High Court in Lilongwe has ordered the Malawi police to compensate the victims within 21 days “to remedy human rights violations” suffered by the women.

Meanwhile, different human rights activists and movements have hailed the ruling with Social Justice Network saying it should set off the search for perpetrators.