Karonga villagers pen Malawi leader over land dispute

Residents of Mangulu Village in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula in Malawi’s northern district of Karonga have written President Joyce Banda demanding her to provide them with security, food and other relief items following recent attacks by residents from a neighbouring village known as Chakwera.

The residents  from the two villages have long been at loggerheads over ownership of a piece of land which Chakwera villagers claim that it belongs to them.

Nyasa Times understands that the dispute reached the crescendo on the night of December 20 night when Mangulu residents were taken unawares by heavily armed Chakwera villagers who were armed with  panga knives, stones, hammers, axes, bows and arrows invaded the village.

“They surrounded the whole village and started attacking us. They were hacking any person found in every house,” says Kennan Mkandawire, advisor to village headman Mangulu.

President Banda: Matters referred to her

Mkandawire says during that fateful night, seven people including the village headman Mangulu were hacked and a 22-year-old girl (name withheld) was undressed naked and raped before she was pressed the mango fruit into her private parts by the invaders as she wanted to rescue her mother from the attack.

“It’s the village headman Chakwera himself who instructed his boys to rape the girl. As if that was not enough, they forced a big mango fruit into her vagina and this has left the girl traumatized,” claimed Mkandawire.

In the fracas, Mkandawire says, some invaders were rooting property ranging from food, money, subsidized fertilizers, beddings and livestock putting the residents at risk of experiencing hunger.

Meanwhile, Karonga police have arrested village headman Chakwera in connection with the incident.

Karonga police spokesperson Enock Livason confirmed the arrest of chief Chakwera to Nyasa Times but said police are still investigating the matter before they make more arrests.

However, this does not go well with the victims who are accusing the police of being too lenient on the invaders as none of the residents has been arrested except the chief. They are also accusing the newly installed chief Kilupula of corruption for failing to settle the dispute.

“The new Kilupula promised the Chakwera villagers that he would help them get back the wanted land from Mangulu if they support him towards securing a position of TA Kilupula. I think this explains why we are suffering. We wonder why the chief would behave like this when he is expected to be the custodian of peace among his people,” lamented Mkandawire.

In the letter address to the President which Nyasa Times possesses the victims are requested the government to cultivate sanity in installation of chiefs in Karonga.

“We people of Mangulu feel there is a lot of politicking on issue surrounding cheiftainship here in Karonga north that is why innocent souls continue suffering which is pathetic. Help us with lasting and concrete solution to the conflict affecting us here,” reads the letter.

They are also inviting the President to see for herself the suffering they have been subjected to after the fracas.

“You would also see for yourself that we continue living in untold fear. Up until now many have not reoccupied our dwellings because of threats emanating from what we had seen. Yet none of them had been arrested apart from their village headman Chakwera only.”

They say the incident has robbed them their right to food, protection, privacy and association.

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