‘I did not hit any police officer’ – Clifford Khomba testifies

Clifford Khomba accused of hitting police officer

A 46-year-old man l, Clifford Khomba, who is answering charges of acts intended to cause grievous harm and causing damage to property after he allegedly hit traffic police officers, has told a court that he never hit any traffic officers.

On 16th May, 2022 Khomba was arrested for allegedly hitting traffic police officers who were on duty at Bestobell along the Masauko Chipembere Highway in Blantyre after some disagreements over a fine for over speeding.

Later, on 10th November, 2022, Khomba appeared before the Blantyre Magistrate Court for plea taking where he was charged with two counts of damaging property intentionally and acts intending to cause grievous harm punishable by life imprisonment.

The accused denied the two counts, a development which saw Chief Resident Magistrate Akya Mwanyongo adjourning the case to 21 November, 2022 when the state paraded seven witnesses, who were all police officers.

On Monday 10th July, 2023, Khomba took the stand for defence when he appeared before an open court at the scene of the incident, Bestobell along Masauko Chipembere Highway, where he testified before the Court that he never hit any traffic officers.

Clifford Khomba with a Magistrate and lawyers at the scene of the incident

He told the court that as he was leaving the scene after failure to negotiate for a K25,000.00 fine documentation as he had no money on him, one police officer came to the driver’s seat window and attempted to confiscate the car keys but failed because the car was in reverse gear.

He further told the court that the police officer he was struggling with, swore at him and further told him to never be close to any traffic officer saying he was smelling badly.

“One officer who confiscated my driving licence came as I was negotiating the fine with the cashier and said I was smelling bad and I should never be close to the cashier or else he will beat me.

“I apologised but he continued swearing at me. He said ma***nde ako, do you think we are playing? Then I replied; no, am going boss. He later said; maybe we should confiscate the car since perhaps you think we are playing. And that was when he came to the driver’s seat window where he continued, slapped me by the face since he was frustrated as he couldn’t take the key from the ignition because the Car was in reverse gear. He held me by the top, struggling with me in trying to pull me out of the car through the window,” Khomba told the court.

In the process of a heated struggle with the police officer, Khomba said he was thrown and fell between the two front seats and within seconds the vehicle moved forward and hit a nearby tree, but said he never saw what exactly happened because the traffic officer covered his face with his own sweater jacket and threw him between the seats.

While emphasising that he never hit any traffic officer, Clifford Khomba told the court that there was no officer in front of the car apart from the one whom he was struggling with through the driver’s seat window who he said was left on the far ground of the road when the car cruised towards the tree.

“He slapped me in the face and he covered my face with a sweater jacket I was wearing as he was trying to pull me out of the car. In defence, I held his two hands and he later pushed me to the left front seat of the car and that was when in seconds I heard a sound that the car had hit something.

“Then I saw that the car had hit a tree. The traffic officer fell down and his fellow officers, who were on the other side of the road, stopping other vehicles rushed to check on him. There was no way the car would have hit police officers who were on the road, far from the incident, catching overspeeding drivers,” narrated Khomba.

He further told the court that he was beaten by a team of patrolling police officers who came at the scene before he was taken to Blantyre police station where he alleged to have been assaulted again by the men in uniform, till he was unconscious.

A bystander, Pofera Chituwa, testified before the court saying from what he saw on the material date, there was no single traffic police officer who was hit by the accused.

Khomba’s wife, Diana, gave evidence to the fact that her husband almost died from the torture he faced from the Police and that for him then to end up facing criminal charges is unfair and painful.

In the other hand, Dr Lamilton Chikafa, a medical doctor at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital who is also the Surgery Registrar, gave evidence in relation to the injuries suffered by the Police Officers where he highlighted that, all officers had minor injuries and showed no evidence of a speeding object direct impact.

Both the state through Senior State Advocate Gift Msume and the defence through University of Malawi’s Lecturer Alexious Kamangila, who is representing Khomba for free, said they are satisfied with the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Chief Residence Magistrate Mwanyongo has adjourned the case to 13th August, 2023 for the State and Defence to file submissions following closure of Defence case and from there, the Court will pronounce it’s judgment on conviction on a date to be pronounced.

Khomba’s case is a highly followed case due to the media attention it got since the issue was first reported by the Police. With the turns and twists experienced in the trial, the outcome is promising to be of great public interest.