Court faults Malawi police mode of investigations in July 20 bloodshed

Lilongwe High Court Judge Fiona Mwale’s recent ruling which acquitted Malawi Police Service (MPS) officer Sub Inspector Isaac Andrew Kamwala on a murder charge  during  uly 20, 2011 fatal shootings where police shot and killed unarmed demonstrator, faulted the conduct in which the law enforcers carried out their investigations.

Judge Fiona Mwale: Her ruling faults Police 

On July 20, disgruntled Malawians took to the streets in all the three major cities of the country protesting against poor economic management and bad governance by the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

After the first two days of protests, 20 deaths and several body injuries were recorded.

In response to this high death toll, the Police established an internal investigations team comprised of 8 police officers who were tasked, amongst other things, with documenting what had happened and determining whether there had been excessive use of force.

According to the judgement which Nyasa Times has seen,  it casts doubt whether the some families of those who lost the loved one will see justice being done.

Kamwala, who was stationed at Lumbadzi police was being suspected of killing Edward Kangumbe, a charge contrary to section 209 of the penal code.

Judge Mwale said it was safe to conclude that the State had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Kamwela was indeed responsible for the shooting of late Kangumbe.

In her judgment, it was clear that the police investigations were inclined to implicate selected and vulnerable police officer while shielding the real culprits.

For example, Mwale observed that the State, failed to prove its theory that it was only Kamwela who had live ammunitions on the day of the shooting.

The judge observed a lot of alterations, discrepancies and inconsistencies in the manner in which the records of officers who took out weapons was kept.

This is against the testimony of Police investigator Ireen Kamphantengo Kainja who was Principal Witness 4 (PW4’s) evidence which gave some important insights into Malawi Police Service rules for the recording of the movement of weapons and ammunition.

The rules are conveniently summarised with the aid of a mnemonic acronym, “ELBO” which means No Erasures (no alteration), Legible handwriting only, No Blank spaces and No Overwriting (you must sign if you overwrite).

As she was acquitting the accused, Judge Mwale said whilst the accused person has not been proved to have caused the death, the deceased’s killer is still at large and the evidence of the accused in this public record is important for bringing the real killer to justice.

“From the evidence of the investigator who investigated this murder, PW4, her investigation was far from complete when she handed over the file for prosecution,” observed the judge.

The State  had counsel Oliver Gondwe from Ministry of Justice as prosecutor while the defence was represented by lawyer Chrispin Ndalama.

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4 years ago

Malawi has the most inexperienced and unskilled investigators in Africa. The same is probably true with the prosecutors. This is why a lot of cases are being thrown out due to poor investigative skills, lack of evidence or just pure corruption at play. The rule of law and justice system in general, have collapsed. It is almost a given fact that those who are wronged/victims of crime will never see justice being served. Political leaders should be highly worried because the same justice system, that they have collapsed, will get them locked up for a crime they didn’t commit. A… Read more »

4 years ago


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