Konala’s case is blatant abuse and disregard for human rights by Malawi Police

We have become so numb from daily reports of plunder and corruption that corruption no longer shocks us.

If you try to count public officials who miss an opportunity of soliciting or receiving a bribe, you will not run of fingers. In fact, you will not find one.

Even us the citizenry, when on the wrong side of traffic laws, we happily pay bribes and go about boasting about it, as if we have done something heroic.

Yet the proof that with corruption, we all lose is self-evident.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) for instance, would not have now been on its deathbed had its Czar, been firm on corruption.

With his K1.7billion fraud case refusing to die, those alleged indiscretions are why UDF beds with whosoever promises to kill that trial.

Were UDF in opposition, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would have been forced to deliver. Remember the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s first term?

That was due to the existence of a strong opposition.

Am not sure if you have heard this: according to media reports, a young man, Harrison Konala, 21 is claiming K100 million for the wrongful arrest and trauma he suffered for about five months in detention.

The young man was operating a motorbike taxi in Thyolo. On July 12 2017, he conveyed two passengers — a male and a female — and dropped them off at Chipho near Mozambique border.

This was all in a day’s work.

Returning to his base, he met eight men. They inquired about his passengers, one of whom they accused of murder. When Konala — as any taxi driver would have done — failed to explain their whereabouts, they confiscated his motorbike.

Konala lodged a complaint at Sandama Police Post, and recovered the motorbike and hence began his ordeal.

The police officer who recovered the bike demanded a bribe of K50,000. Konala paid K10,000. Upon failing to pay the balance, he was arrested for the said murder by Masambaanjati Police.

Konala then spent three weeks in a police cell at Masambanjaati. Since he still could not pay the remaining K40,000, he was transferred to Thyolo Prison before being moved to Chichiri Prison and finally to Zomba Maximum Prison.

Blues’ Orators, if the speed at which Konala was incarcerated were the same at which the ministers and public servants looting our money are accorded, Malawi would have been free of corruption.

However, we rush to hang the innocent and petty thieves while electing big villains into public office!

This being the case, there are many Konala languishing in our prisons because they cannot bribe their way out. Up north, one Wilson Kamboje has spent eight years in jail, without trial for a suspected homicide.

Now check this injustice and hypocrisy: while Konala was hastily imprisoned for failing to bribe a police officer, many high profile suspects are roaming free.

While Atcheya, for example, has never re-visited a prison for the alleged fraud of K1.7billion, which robbed us of basic social services worth K1.7billion; he is at large enjoying the benefits of a former president.

Should his case collapse due to UDF’s marriage of convenience with the powers-that-be, he will join Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary General Grezelder wa Jeffrey on the long queue of those claiming billions of our hard paid taxes.

While the innocent and petty thieves are languishing in jail, connected mafias are enjoying VIP treatment, sitting on high tables and even shaping policy.

What I find most appalling in Konala’s case is the blatant abuse and disregard for human rights by the Malawi Police Force.

Had Konala remained in Masambanjaati Police cell, one could have written off his misfortune as a human error. However, this was not the case.

They shunted Konala from Masambaanjati, then to Thyolo Prison, to be gaoled in Zomba Maximum Prison, via Chichiri Prison.

Tell me: how can our police shuffle an innocent person three times without noticing something amiss?

If during all these relocations no one had the guts to review Konala’s file and to ask the right questions, then we have a big problem: our congested prisons are bursting with innocent souls.

To conclude this sad anecdote, the conduct of the police officer who arrested Konala epitomises the rot that Inspector General Kachama and his Commander-In-Chief, President Peter Mutharika are presiding over.

Who then can fault Chaponda’s assertion in 2013 that fish rots from the head down?

Look here folks: IF a police officer can brazenly lock up a citizen for not paying a bribe at a police station that has an Officer- In-Charge, then transfer him to the district prison, in transit to maximum security prison; who would believe that our president is a legal guru?

How many more Konalas are languishing in our police cells and prisons across the country incarcerated for failing to bribe police officers?

What would have become of Konala if he, like many in our prisons, had no access to legal representation?

Blues’ Orators, as President Professor Peter Arthur Mutharika is busy laying foundation stones for projects doomed to never see the light of the day like Mombera University), he would do well to ponder his reputation as a Juris Doctor.

While I can live with Mutharika failing in all aspects of leadership, I fail to comprehend his incompetence in his one professed area of expertise: governing us in tandem with the principles of the rule of law.

Allow me to recap: here we are with Mutharika’s own homeboy — Konala — arrested right in Mutharika’s backyard — Thyolo — for failing to bribe a law enforcer.

It does not end there.

They treat him like a hard-core criminal, only to be saved by a chance access to legal representation after the trauma he suffered has already killed his poor mother, a loving mom whom he was refused to speak to during his wrongful arrest.

You call this the rule of law?

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Malawi is a nation of cowards.Look around Africa now, people are voicing their concerns resulting in resignations etc.Wake up Malawi and do something! Complaining alone will not help!

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