Rights grouping demands arrest of estate guards who killed unarmed man


The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has demanded Thyolo District Commissioner to address  mob justice concerns over the conduct of some guards in tea estates in the district, following an incident on Saturday at Naming’omba Tea Estate where guards allegedly killed a driver accused of stealing logs of firewood belonging to the estate.

In a letter that we have seen and signed by CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa, the rights grouping says it has given the DC seven days is to ensure that all those guards that took the law into their own hands are arrested.

This comes after reports that people of Thyolo,  have registered concerns that Estate guards have resorted to taking the law into their own hands by using either excessive force or administering mob justice on unarmed citizens suspected to have committed a crime within the estate premises.

The case in point is an incident at Naming’omba tea estate, which occurred on Saturday July 2, 2022, where over twenty guards descended on an unarmed driver and his assistant, who were suspected to have been stealing logs of firewood belonging to the estate.

The reports say the driver Owen Matchowa, who was at the mercy of the guards is reported to have been severely beaten by the guards, and was left with serious injuries, which led to his death at Thyolo District Hospital in the morning hours of Monday July 4, 2022.

The assistant driver only identified as Matwenty reportedly managed to escape.

Meanwhile, Namiwa has demanded justice for the deceased and that Naming’omba tea estate should compensate the bereaved family in addition to making a public apology to the family in particular, and the people of Thyolo in general, on this very traumatic incident.

“Failure to do so will force CDEDI and indeed the people of Thyolo and Mulanje to take action because what has happened is barbaric and unacceptable behaviour which should not be condoned,” he says.

The incident happened a day after the Police in Thyolo were at Naming’omba tea estate on Friday July 1, 2022 for a sensitisation meeting with the guards against the same vice.

According to Namiwa, the revelation alone shows the magnitude of the problem in the estates, and would compel someone to think that the estate owners have decided to wage war against the locals in the tea growing district despite the fact that people of Thyolo and Mulanje are peace loving and law-abiding citizens.

He has since reminded the estate owners that the land they are using was grabbed violently from the locals’ forefathers.

“Therefore, subjecting the very same people to this inhumane and barbaric conduct, is like adding salt on the wounds that the British colonialists inflicted on the locals in the early 1890s, and nothing has been done to heal them,” he narrated.

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