Malawi Police teargas university students, 22 released on bail: Updated

Coldblooded Malawi Police Friday morning tear gassed and ruthlessly beat up scores of students from Bunda College of Agriculture who were protesting outside the Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) premises over the newly introduced loan forms.

Over 200 students from the agriculture college invaded MSB’s Area 3 premises in the capital Lilongwe bringing business in the area into a halt.

The police also arrested 22 students whom they severe physically assaulted and left them with various degrees of body injuries.

Instead of taking them to hospital for treatment they were just locked up at Lilongwe Police Station where they were charged with two counts of malicious damage and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

Teargas state

However, the 22 were released on bail late in the day by the Lilongwe Magistrate Court and were immediately rushed to hospital for treatment, according to the College Students Union President Frackson Phwitiko.

Lilongwe Police deputy spokesperson, Kingsley Dandaula confirmed the release on bail of the 22 students but refused to give further details.

One of the bail conditions for the 22 students is that they have to report at the Lilongwe Magistrate Court every fortnight.

But Phwitiko said the students were really disturbed with police brutal action in severe beating up their colleagues who carried no weapon and never acted violently.

“They have all been bailed out and were immediately rushed to hospital for treatment because they have all been badly beaten by the police,” he said.

He added: “But we don’t understand how our police could be such vicious when the students were not even violent neither were they destroying property. Anyway the issue is with the court and we just hope justice will see the light of the day.”

Earlier in the day the students chanted anti-regime songs while carrying tree branches demanding justice while their students’ union leaders were discussing the issue with the bank authorities for the way forward.

There was total disorder around the premises forcing MSB authorities to invite combat police to quell the situation and restore order.

But instead of using dialogue with the students the fully armed police officers beat up the student and pointlessly threw tear gas in all directions.

They also confiscated the college bus which had transported the students from their campus to the area.

 

Students from the country’s two public universities (Mzuzu and UNIMA) are arguing that the new loan form designed by the state owned bank is very complicated and prohibitive and must be reviewed before they can adopt it.

But MSB has been adamant to bow down to the students’ pressure because it thinks the newly designed form would easily enable them to recover the loans.

The students further argue that the new form will make them spend more than they used to because it is too demanding and if MSB cannot change it then it has to stop disbursing the loans.

The development comes barely a month after their colleges from the Mzuzu Univestiry also camped at the bank’s premises in the city demanding justice as well.

MZUNI Student Union President Moses Chalera vowed that MZUNI students would not fill the said forms come what may.

“As Mzuzu University students, we are strongly against these forms because they are prohibitive, and will fight tooth and nail to make sure that they are replaced,” he said.

Students are supposed to receive K55 000 for book and stationery allowance during the first two weeks of their arrival at the campus but it has taken government seven weeks now and it is not known when the students will get their loans

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