An activists representing one of human rights bodies Malawi Networks of Religious Leader Living with or Personally Affected with HIV and Aids (MANERELA+) have faulted Police for rushing into arresting a man allerged to have been pretending to be a female prostitute and soliciting immoral purpose.
Malawi Police at Kanengo Police Station Monday arrested a a locked in custody a 19 year old man identified as Van Gomani accusing him of soliciting immoral purpose through dressing and identifying himself as a female prostitute.
Kanengo Police Publicist Salome Chibwana told the media that before his arrest, Gomani stood along the Kaunda road in the city to seduce male clients.
The allegations are that Gomani was later picked by a client and they both went into a private place to fulfil their lust where the client realised he was blindfolded and picked a fellow man instead of a she.
It is reported that the client then reported the matter to police and surrendered the suspect who was immediately locked.
The client told the police that he believes Gomani wanted to steal from him.
Unconfirmed reports indicates that in the process of interrogating the suspect, he was forced to undress in front of several police officers to identify whether he was a man or a woman. And that some cops laughed on the man’s sieze of his genitals.
This is what has angered the rights activists who says ‘forcing someone to undress in public is a violation of human rights’.
According to Allie Mwachande, a Human Rights defender working with MANERELA+, Police could have thoroughly investigate the matter before harrasing the suspect.
“I think the police could have done better than what they did because in the first place we are told the suspect was brought to them by the client who picked this individual so the question is who is this client?” wondererd Mwachande.
Mwachande suspects the two had a mission and the deal went sour.
“We all know that in Malawi there are some people who practice homosexuality and get paid and I suspect these people had a deal that went sour but that aside, we are unhappy with the action of the police took in forcing the suspect to undress infront of people; thats a violation of human rights. We therefore demand an apology from the police” Mwachande told Nyasa Times.
He therefore urged government to punish officers who violate rights of Malawians which is one of the ‘fundamental aspects of democracy’.
“Malawi as a nation should not forget that we signed several International Human Rights Charters and we should always abid to that. We should also remember that we have minority groups that also have their own rights just like the rest of us as we were all created by
God in his own image,” he added.
He further advised police to stop over-reacting on petty issues and bear in mind that it is only the court that convict people.
“Any individual is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law so Police Officers must know that they are not judges,” he said.
On his part, Harold Kachepatsonga also from MANERELA+ concurred with Mwachande that Gomani’s rights were violated.
“The police should not be excited by arresting people and keep them in custody without thorough investigations because as regards to this matter of Gomani, there are alot of things that we need to look into including rights of the individual as we are aware that this person was undressed to check his gender to justify this case,” said Kachepatsonga.
He added that: “Police need to get real facts to determine whether any crime was commited or the suspect intended to commit a crime”.
MANERELA has since demanded the immediate release of Gomani.
“We are therefore demanding the immediate and unconditional release of this individual [Gomani] or else we will take government and other stakeholders including the plice to task,” said Kachepatsonga.