Malawi activist Hajat files K150m claim for damages

Rafiq Hajat, one of Malawi’s leading rights activists has filed claim for damages amounting to around K150 million after his Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) offices in Blantyre were torched by fire suspected from a petrol bomb during the midnight of September 2, 2011.

Hajat has filled the claim through his lawyer, John Gift Mwakhwawa who confirmed to Nyasa Times to have mailed government with the claim sometime back, demanding “substantial amount for damages”.

Arsonists suspected to be operatives of then ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) broke window panes at IPI offices at Lali Lubani Road near Wanderers Club and threw in a suspected petrol bomb, destroying archives, a fully fledged library, office furniture and computers.

Hajat is claiming damages on loss of livelihood following torching of his offices; intimidation, harassment, death threats and compensation of burnt office equipment and damaged building.

Hajat: Demand compesation

Hajat: Demand compesation

“I can confirm that am handling the matter and that government is aware of the claim. I can’t say much as of now apart from confirming that I am handling the issue,” said lawyer Mwakhwawa in an interview  while refusing to disclose the claimed amount.

However, Hajat in an interview said the money could be in the region of K150 million while disclosing plans to use part of the money to set-up a trust to assist victims and bereaved families of July 20, 2011 anti-government protests’ killings.

Hajat said: “I need to replace the lost office equipment, compensate my landlord for the damaged building, and I intend to use about K5 to K10 million to set-up a trust fund through which the general public and well wishers could contribute to assist those affected by the July 20 killings”.

The activist lamented how the incident affected his life and IPI, saying the organization started operating effectively in January this year.

“The fire destroyed some irreplaceable documents that were of great importance to the nation. I was devastated and my organization has been struggling ever since to be stable again”.

Meanwhile, the police have not apprehended any person suspected to have instigated the fire.

That was second time Hajat, the director of the Blantyre-based think tank Institute for Policy Interaction, has experienced a similar tragedy with the first of burglary in 2010.

In 2011, Hajat – one of the key organizers of July 20, 2011 anti-government protests said he was leading a “solitary existence” following threats from former President late Bingu wa Mutharika to “smoke out” organizers of the demonstration.

Mutharika accused the protesters of committing treason.

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