President Peter Mutharika has made some new appointments in the Police Service. Loti Dzonzi has paved the way. The new Inspector General of Police is now Paul Kanyama, who was previously Southern Region Police Commissioner.
Rodney Jose, the man who not long ago was in the news for all the bad reasons, will deputize Kanyama. Mr. Rodney Jose (formerly Southern Region Police Commissioner) is the police officer embroiled in the murder of Robert Chasowa, a final year engineering student at the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic in Blantyre in the wee hours of September 24, 2011.
According to a report of the Commission of Inquiry that was instituted by the former President Joyce Banda, Jose is the man who was at the centre of the murder plot, especially seeing to it State House instructions are carried out in detail.
He is the officer who personally ferried Chasowa and friends from Blantyre to Lilongwe and back for a series of meetings with the then Inspector General of Police, Peter Mukhitho. These meetings ended up in the death of Chasowa.
Mr. Jose was at the centre of scheming in the deadly troika of the Democratic Progressive Party, Police and State House that meticulously plotted to murder the Polytechnic final year student under the previous DPP regime of Bingu wa Mutharika.
It was also the same Police cast of Peter Mukhitho (now Chief of State Residencies), Kanyama, Jose and others that spearheaded the implementation of the ‘shoot to kill’ policy under Bingu wa Mutharika. They presided over the July 20 shootings, resulting in the deaths of 20 innocent civilians.
When Bingu wa Mutharika died during those three mad days of April 2012, Joyce Banda came out blazing with maternal instincts. She immediately ordered an inquiry into the sad death of this young innocent and bright student. The names of Mukhitho and Jose were mentioned alongside other top DPP officials as the architects of the untimely departure Robert Chasowa.
Following these revelations, the former President directed that Mr. Jose along with other officers named in the murder of Robert Chasowa be suspended to pave way for smooth further investigations. The investigations had not been concluded the time Joyce Banda and her PP government left office in May 2014.
The findings of the Commission of Inquiry indicated that the then DPP Government, under the late President Bingu wa Mutharika, was angry with Robert Chasowa and his friends because of the scathing statements they made and wrote against Bingu and his government, especially over the collapsing economy and general political intolerance by Bingu wa Mutharika and company, who included the incumbent President, Peter Mutharika.
Now, President Peter Mutharika has ‘reorganized’ his police service and, not only brought Jose back, but rewarded him with the rank of second in command (operations), deputizing the newly-appointed top Police Chief, Paul Kanyama.
Has Rodney Jose been rewarded for being suspended under the previous regime or for his role in the Robert Chasowa murder?
It is clear that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration under Peter Mutharika is bent on rekindling the old style brutality reminiscent of the old DPP under the current President’s brother, Bingu wa Mutharika.
It is at the press conference where President Mutharika announced the appointment of Jose where the President Peter gave instructions to the police to “shoot to kill” under the guise of getting tough on criminals.
The threatening tone in the latest utterances by the ‘new kid on the block’ (Kanyama) is therefore not coming as a surprise. He is quoted in the press as warning that under his command, police will be armed to the teeth and will revert to its dangerous ways.
It appears now that the first victim of this ‘armed to the teeth’ drive by the new command at area 30 is the slain Malawi Defence Force soldier, Price Lameck, who was gunned down in cold blood for merely exchanging sharp words with a police officer on a night patrol in Zomba. The shooter fled the scene without rendering any assistance to the dying soldier, a clear indication that it was a deliberate act.
Tempers have flared in Zomba, and the Malawi Defence Force is visibly angry with Malawi Police. Officers are said to have abandoned their duty posts; roadblocks have been abandoned; traffic police is nowhere to be seen and businesses are closing before regular hours. People are expecting anything to happen.
It seems the ‘shoot to kill’ policy has grossly misfired and has ended up firing at the wrong target. In the end, Malawians will end up paying a dear price.
By appointing the man who was implicated and suspended for the murder of Robert Chasowa, Mutharika, and the DPP administration are sending a clearer message that the issue of the slain Polytechnic student is the least thing on the list of their priorities.
It is clear that the investigation of Jose and others over the death of Robert Chasowa is practically dead and buried, and that Mutharika’s podium talk about respect for human rights is just political rhetoric.
Joyce Banda instituted a probe into the death of young Robert Chasowa. Joyce Banda ordered the suspension of Rodney Jose to pave way for smooth and further investigations into that gruesome murder. Joyce Banda is no longer Head of State.
By engaging the very same people that are suspected to have been behind the death of the university student and whom Joyce Banda wanted to face the wrath of law, is Peter Mutharika not up to some evil against his predecessor? Your guess is as good as mine!
Recently, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) issued a statement urging international human rights organizations to take a leading role in pressurizing the Malawi Government to prosecute and conclude the Chasowa murder case.
*Hastings Kandoje is a social, economic and political commentator. He writes in his personal capacityFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :