Kamuzu Academy Alumni Association have joined the public, the civil society organisations, the legal fraternity to speak against the violence being meted out between state agents and rioting citizens during political demonstrations since May disputed elections.
In a statement, the Alumni say the right to protest is firmly provided for in the Constitution and has consistently been upheld by the Supreme Court against attempts by the Attorney General to frustrate the right of Malawians to hold demonstrations.
“We further condemn any violence against security agents including the police and call on the authorities to provide attested police servicemen the necessary professional police training and equipment for various policing assignments including riot management.
“The police have come out ill equipped, without adequate personnel protective equipment (PPE) and seemingly untrained to professionally manage crowds and riots amidst rumors that the Police Service is infiltrated with partisan units.
“As a result, they have indiscriminately used tear gas and used other unconventional actions including sexual assaults and rape.
“We would particularly like to express our profound sadness, shock and horror following the sexual and physical assault by a group of uniformed Police personnel on the hardworking and innocent women and girls of Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu as they were hiding in their own villages and homes after running away from the violence.
“These are unacceptable acts of violence against women ostensibly sponsored by the state.
“This is unfortunate, deplorable and an atrocious act of infamy particularly given that Malawi is a signatory to so many international and regional human rights and gender equality protocols aimed at stamping out acts of violence against women and girls.”
The statement further says Malawian citizens expect the police to protect life, prevent crime, investigate offences and catch criminals as well as maintaining public order without taking sides.
“This is why this heinous act is particularly beyond the pale and of great concern to us as citizens of this country.
“There is evidence that police brutality, motivated ostensibly by partisan interests and inadequate capacity to handle public riots, are primarily responsible for fueling the escalating violence in the country.
“There are justifiable fears that the sexual attacks by the police may have exposed the targeted women to the risks of HIV/Aids infections and most certainly unwanted pregnancies.
“These women and their families deserve unconditional post- traumatic support and justice from the state.”
The Alumni applauds the authorities following the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the Police to look into their own conduct.
“However, while we feel encouraged [by this commission of Inquiry] we strongly feel that there is need for an Independent Inquiry chaired by a reputable and independent retired Judge, both for impartiality and credibility.
“Else, this will be seen as an exercise in an establishment whitewash, cover up and a continuity of the perceived entrenched impunity in our public institutions.
“We are aware that several such inquiries have not yielded much in the past and there is a strong suspicion that this inquiry could very well be a smokescreen. As this is a human rights issue, we are of the strong view that an Independent Commission of Inquiry is the way to go supervised by the Malawi Human Rights Commission as per their mandate.”
The alumni is appealing to President Peter Mutharika to take charge of the worsening security situation in the country and demonstrate leadership.
“The country is looking up to you to restore order and put an end to the insecurity that is on the verge of ruining the reputation of our beautiful country as the Warm Heart of Africa.
“To halt this seeming descent into the abyss of violence that is engulfing our people. To put an end to the uncertainty and insecurity. The current prevailing situation cannot be allowed to continue unaddressed,” reads the statement.
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