Malawi Police, Poly students clash: Cop suffers deep cuts

Trouble continues to mount on Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi as the Police in Blantyre on Monday tear-gassed stone-wielding students when they wanted to take to the streets supporting lecturers demanding a 113 percent salary raise.

The students were also demonstrating over the insufficient stationery allowances they receive monthly and a protracted stand-off  between lecturers and the government.

The government raised the student’s allowances by 21 percent but this month they received their old allocation of K33, 000. With the increase of 21 percent, they were supposed to receive about K40, 000 each.

Following the general meeting the students had with the Polytechnic Students Union in the morning of 3 September, they agreed to have a peaceful demonstration to force the government to top up with the remaining money and to resolve the lecturer’s issue of salary increase.

Police at Poly

During the demonstration, the students went to the Masauko Chipembere highway and they were singing. This invasion caused a traffic jam to the extent that cars could not pass by.

According to the Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) president, Wakisa Simukonda, the demonstration was done in order to pressurise the government to solve the issues as soon as possible.

“We planned to have a peaceful demonstration for the government to address our issues as soon as possible because time is being wasted,” Said Simukonda.

According to a third year student studying Business Information Systems at the college, the students were peaceful and police came and started firing volleys of teargas.

The students said police demanded that they return to campus because they did not follow procedures.

Afterwards, the police invaded the Poly campus and continued to fire teargas and about seven Police officers went as far as the student’s hostels.

One police officer was caught by the students who stoned him and beat him badly. The other officers ran away with their guns.

Spokesman Nicholas Gondwa confimed that an assistant commissioner tried to reason with the students who pelted him with stones, slashing his face.

Gondwa  identified the officer as Assistant Commissioner of Police Edward Chingaipe, an Officer-in-Charge of the Police Mobile Force in the capital, Lilongwe who was in Blantyre on official duties.

The injured officer was rescued by some PSU members and was taken to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for treatment.

According to Gondwa, the officer has “a 4cm wide, 2cm deep cut in the forehead, and another on the left cheek.”

Police had not arrested anyone but Gondwa said they are investigating and “the perpetrators will be arrested”.

The students had put speakers at the front of the college campus where they have been holding their ‘carnival’.

Malawi’s government has faced wildcat strikes by public workers since it allowed the kwacha currency to take major devaluation in May.

Polytechnic lecturers have been on strike for more than three weeks over salary increase. The lecturers are demanding a 113 percent increase but the government rose by 21 percent which was rejected by the lecturers.

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