The Women Legal Resource Centre (Wolrec) has condemned the recent Malawi Police brutality in Kanono village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Symon in southern district of Neno.
According to Wolrec, an organisation that works with grassroot communities in the district, armed police officers roughed up “innocent and defenseless” women, children, people with disabilities, the elderly, people living with HIV/AIDS, and other disadvantaged groups.
The police brutality was in reaction to villagers’ conduct of blocking the railway line under construction in the district.
The villages resorted to blocking the railway line to force the contractor Vale Logistics to fulfil its promise to construct the bridges in the area.
But Wolrec claims that the police brutality was not perpetrated on the spot of the railway line blockage, but in the village and victims were not anywhere near the spot nor were they found doing anything akin to blocking the railway line.
“Armed police officer terrorised the villagers by despicable acts, beating women who were coming from fetching water; beating Maria Juvanile several times on the head and back with a barrel of a gun leaving her with a big wound on the head,” said Maggie Kathewera Banda, Wolrec Executive Director.
Kathewera Banda further claims that police officers damaged household property including domestic animals and food items by setting them ablaze; “discharging their tear gas willy-nilly” and arresting and detaining some people.
“These acts amounted to serious violations of human rights, more especially the rights of innocent women, children and the elderly.
“The villagers are currently heavily traumatised and are living in fear,” she says.
She has since called upon the Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Police to urgently look into the matter.
Kathewera-Banda said they expect the Minister and the IG to take personal interest in the investigation of the matter by ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to book.
“Failure to do so will create a sense of impunity on the part of the responsible officers and other similar minded individuals.
“We also expect the Ministry of Justice to ensure that victims are adequately compensated for the pain and suffering they went through as well as the loss of livelihood,” she contends.
She added, “it is sad to note that a reformed police service can terrorise poor villagers in such a manner.”
Kathewera-Banda has also asked the Ministry of Transport and Public Works to intervene in the wrangle between Vale Logistics Limited and the people of Neno.
She has also asked government and Vale Logistics to restore the piped water supply to the area which, was disrupted by the railway line construction project.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :