Hunger grips Malawi: Nsanje women survive on Nyika plants, risk crocodile attacks as Police torture at Admarc

As the hunger continues biting hard the Lower Shire districts, women and children are on risk of crocodile attacks as they are always found in shire river searching for water plants called Nyika to feed themselves as they run away from police torture in ADMARC markets.

Unending maize ques at Admarc
Unending maize ques at Admarc

A visit by the Malawi News Agency along the shire river, found women and children in the dangerous waters searching for nyika for survival.

One of the women found pulling out nyika from the river said their practice has come about after noticing that the officers who were supposed to be providing them security at the ADMARC have turned to be torturers.

She said: “You know that we women are the ones who usually go to the markets or ADMARC to buy food. So, we have been doing the same going to the ADMARC markets to purchase maize, however what we are experiencing is inhuman especially on how the police officers are handling us.

“Enough is enough, we have nowhere to go. Therefore, most of us have resorted to going into the water to search for nyika plants so that we can survive. We know that it is risky considering that there are crocodiles but we cannot do otherwise.

“Just imagine, last week at Nsanje Boma ADMARC, women who work at Nsanje District Hospital were beaten by a police officer nicknamed ‘Satana’.”

Another woman from Nyoza village in the area of Traditional Authority Chimombo who has developed an eye problem after being beaten by Nsanje police officer when she wanted to buy the staple food at Fargo ADMARC satellite in the area of Chief Chimombo said she has no interest to go to ADMARC markets anymore.

“As you can see my left eye, I was hit with a metal bar by a police officer   known by the name Satana. I was not violent. From that time, we women have no interest of going to the ADMARC to buy maize and we are only relying on nyika.

“It is sad that I have attained this disability at this age because I wanted to buy maize. It is better to die of hunger rather than being experiencing torture from the police,” said Ethel Batista.

Batista said she has been visiting the police for justice to take its course but nothing has been done by the police authorities.

Commenting on the development, Acting Traditional Authority Chimombo said women are subjected to police torture when they try to buy maize and have since resorted to searching for the water plants which are now called mtukula pakhomo extracted from the shire river.

Chimombo said while the government is doing what it can to feed its people, some people including the security officers are trying to frustrate its efforts.

He noted that the police are torturing the people so that they can have room to sell the maize to their vendors at a higher price.

“This government is trying to ensure that people have food. However, our police here in Nsanje are trying to frustrate this effort. Look, more women have resorted to risk their lives by going into the dangerous waters where there are a lot of crocodiles. Police officers are now attacking innocent people in the name of providing security.

“Not only that, vendors are now conniving with these police officers where they are given a chance to buy more maize at unofficial price and then sell it to the citizenry at a higher price. Sometimes, the police officers are buying the maize at the ADMARC and sale it at a higher price to the locals. This is very bad and it is tarnishing the government’s image,” said Acting Traditional Authority Chimombo.

He advised the government to empower the local leaders so that people should buy maize at the ADMARC markets through villages or areas they are coming from.

“With this approach, every Malawian will have access to maize as local leaders know their subjects and vendors can have no chance of buying maize. This will assist in ensuring that our women and children are safe and retain the trust to ADMARC,” he advised.

Nsanje Police Officer In- Charge Assistant Commissioner of Police Kirby Kaunga could neither deny nor acknowledge the developments as he said the woman was injured accidentally as she was forced to be on the line.

Kaunga said they have been asking the woman to come to the police station to establish what happened but she could not turn up.

“It is not true that she was beaten by the police officer. The police officers are deployed to different ADMARC markets to ensure that there is security and peace at such selling points. I am sure that it was not by design.

“I have been asking the woman to come so that we can resolve the issue. I have also been calling upon people in the district that when they are tortured by the police officers, they should come and report to me. Police is there to protect people and not to torture them,” said Nsanje O/C.

Nsanje Women’s Legal Resource Centre (WOLREC) Project Officer, Lazarus Nantakanya said it is sad for women to be treated like this at a time food is needed most.

“As WOLREC, we would like to urge stakeholders in the district as well as nationwide to consider challenges women are facing and try to address them rather than abusing and assaulting them,” stressed Nantakanya.

It is not the first time people in Nsanje have questioned the bad acts by Nsanje police particularly about Constable Nixon Mwamkenja popularly known as Satana.

Last year in September, 39-year-old Christina Daga of Fulukiya village in the area of Senior Chief Malemia claimed she was forced to pay a police officer identified as Satana real name Constable Nixon Mwamkenja, to have a person who allegedly burnt her house on August 13, 2015 arrested.

Daga said due to financial challenges being faced as a result of the incident; she was forced to seek assistance from Kuchene Women Forum which gave her K1, 500 which the women forum confirmed.

“Immediately after paying the money to Satana, the suspect was arrested only to be released within hours after bribing the police with K6, 000,” she claimed.

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concerned citizen
concerned citizen
5 years ago

Racist MacTubukaFace if you are not from Nsanje you are misinformed. its not all people in Nsanje who eat mphenembe . Nyika, has not been eaten in Nsanje as a staple food. Its only in desparate times like these that those who can not afford to buy the staple food would resort to such wild plants that are edible for survival . Note that, in good weather patterns and rainfall, Nsanje and chikwawa produce rice, sweet potatoes, maize, sorgum. millate etc. etc.

chief activist
5 years ago

akanakhala civilian beating the police officer ,,,,,,,the civilian would be arrested,,,,,,,,,but koz its the police office who man handled the ladies,,,,,,,,no arrest,,,,,,,,,,,whea is justice here?……………………mpake anthu amakangootch manyumba awo or ma police station……….

Racist McTumbukaFace
Racist McTumbukaFace
5 years ago

The Sena have been eating nyika and have been eaten by mphenembe since God created the world! Its not newsworthy!

john telford
john telford
5 years ago

its so simple when its dark just kill him chop him up. he drinks? catch him when drunk , he has a house?? burn it, beat his wife beat his kids he will run away or change his ways, better put petrol or acid on him when its dark end of story .

International Observer
International Observer
5 years ago

Malawi never ceases to amaze me in its activities. When will journalists stop dramatising national problems that even require concerted effort from everybody? Have the people in the lower Shire started looking for nyika only this year? I thought this was there even before the colonial government, Kamuzu’s reign, Muluzi, Bingu, Joyce, and today APM? Was it not the previous rain season when the vice president forewarned the people in the lower shire once again about stopping building in flood prone areas, but are they taking the advice? Was it not just last week when it was mentioned that pumps… Read more »

5 years ago

You lie so easily. Why? Is it foolishness or ignorance. General Farming had 47 estates each growing on average 80 ha. with an average yield of 70 bags per hectare. They were 90 kg bags. Beside GFC there were many commercial farms in Kasungu Mchinji Lilongwe Mbalachanda Bwengu Mangochi growing maize which they sold to ADMARC. This time of the year we used to see lorries lined up from Chillambula ADMARC to Lingadzi inn and lorries from the silos in Lilongwe making long ques delivering maize for storage. Dr Banda used to mock President Kaunda of Zambia that it was… Read more »

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