Malawi Police, encroachers clash in land wrangle

Malawi Police in riot gear clashed with irate villagers at Engucwini in Mzimba  who were resisting attempts to push them from the land they had encroached illegally.

Mzuzu Police Station spokesperson Sergeant Maurice Chapola confirmed the development saying there were no casualties but said six villagers were arrested.

Those arrested are: Edward Phiri 52,Namasalimo Village ,Traditional Authority Mwamba, Zomba District , Chiukepo Nyirenda 20, Kapota Village , Thomas Simbeyi 22, Parson Salanda 22, Jawadu Rajab 34 all  of Mayaka Village , Traditional Authority Mtwalo, Mzimba District and Robert Phiri 18, Dawoni Nyambi Village, Traditional Authority Nyambi, Machinga District.

The villagers, who were armed with Machetes, hoe handles and axes had defied a court order to vacate an Estate belonging to Suzyo Jonathan Msowoya of Mahuza village, Traditional Authority Mtwalo in Mzimba District.

Police had skirmishes with villagers
Police had skirmishes with villagers

The dispute started a decade ago, after Msowoya successfully changed land ownership following the demise of his father but the villagers who had stayed at the land at the behest of his father, refused to vacate the land.

On September 6, 2012, the Magistrate Court in Mzuzu gave the same six villagers a three month suspended sentence and ordered them to vacate the land by January 4th 2013.

But on Wednesday, the villagers were tipped that Police would come and immediately after Police arrived they started attacking them but they were quickly overwhelmed.

Police re-arrested them for contempt of court.

But during court appearance on Thursday they faulted Group Village Headman Kapote saying he cheated them that he had obtained an injunction restraining Msowoya from evicting them.

In her ruling Magistrate Munthali issued another order for the six to vacate the land by Saturday February 9th 2013 or in default serve the suspended sentence.

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