Acting Inspector General of Police, Sir, we, at the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, together with all Malawians of goodwill, demand that you bring to book all perpetrators that sexually abused and molested women and girls at Nsundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu in Lilongwe.
Recalling that the rape and defilement took place on 15th October 2019 and that despite the deafening public outcry on the need to expedite the investigations, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators the Malawi Police Service under your watch has dragged its feet and deliberately protracted the investigations;
Concerned that the protracted investigations have left the victims in a dire strain of physiological and emotional trauma as they have not only been denied justice but recourse to reparations and closure.
Learning from and Aggrieved with the Malawi Human Rights Commission findings:
1. That there are 17 survivors who were sexually violated. Four of the survivors are children below the age of 18 and one of these was defiled and the three were indecently assaulted.
2. Eight of the seventeen survivors were sexually assaulted, defiled and raped in Mpingu whilst the rest were raped and assaulted in M’bwatalika.
3. Some of the survivors were raped right in the presence of their children some of whom are able to recount the incidents and describe the police officers who committed these heinous atrocities.
4. We also know that some survivors claim they can identify their assailants.
1. The survivors were subjected to different forms of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. They were violently beaten, had their vagina and breasts harshly groped at and were forcefully stripped naked at the hands of the Police. This was a clear breach of the provisions against torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under section 19 of the constitution.
2. By raping, defiling and indecently assaulting them, the Police were in breach of section 20 of the constitution and sections 132, 137 and 138 of the penal code.
3. The school-going survivors have had to miss classes after the ordeal and suffer through jeering and ostracization at the hands of their fellow students and other community members. All this has affected their right to education as provided for by Section 25 of the Constitution.
4. Four other survivors are children. Even if the argument of punishment was to have been available to the Police (which was not the case), this is not the kind of treatment that you mete out on children. Worth special mentioning is Juliet Gama’s child who saw things that a four-year-old child is not supposed to see, as he saw his naked mother being raped by a half-naked Police officer and he is able to clearly narrate this ordeal. Without proper psychosocial care, this little boy’s future and other children who also witnessed the violations of their mothers could be negatively affected by the ordeal. All this was a clear contravention of the children’s rights as provided for by section 23(5) of the constitution.
5. Most of the survivors have been divorced by their husbands or are being denied conjugal rights as a result of what had happened to them. This is a clear breach of the right to family as provided for in section 22 of the constitution.
Understanding that under section 153 of the constitution the Police can only enjoy powers as are necessary for maintenance of public order and protection of human rights. Looking at the violations above it is clear that when they went to Mpingu and M’bwatalika the Police conducted themselves to the contrary. They raped, defiled, indecently assaulted, tortured and treated the survivors in a cruel, inhuman and degrading manner. The Police were in clear breach of the constitution. Further, their action amounted to total abuse of power as police officers.
Cognizant of the fact that the Malawi Police Service has on numerous occasions been conducting endless and protracted investigations on serious human rights abuses without tangible results. Notably, the Malawi Police Service has shamelessly not brought to book police officers who allegedly killed Mr Buleya Lule, those who killed Mr. Issa Njauju, and Robert Chasowa – just to mention a few.
We hereby petition you – Acting Inspector-General – these demands in relation to the above concerns:
1. That you must immediately arrest and interdict all the police officers that were deployed for this mission, pending investigations; and
2. That your officers must stop harassing victims and must, instead, conduct investigations in a manner that is within the dictates of human rights.
In conclusion, HRDC will stop at nothing in demanding for accountability with regard to this heinous crime that the Malawi Police Service committed. The Malawi Police Service can no longer use delaying tactics for this crime and indeed any other crimes that have been committed.
Together we stand as we reclaim our destiny!
God bless Malawi!
On behalf of all Malawians of goodwill.
Timothy Mtambo – Chairperson Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC)
Gift Trapence – Vice Chairperson Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDC)