President Peter Mutharika on Monday swore in six of the nine-member commission of inquiry to investigate the spate of attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism (PWAs), advising the team to “watch out for people who may be paid and manipulated in order to provide misleading information.”
Mutharika appointed the inquiry team as a response to demands by Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) for the same.
Among those who took their oath at a ceremony held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe are its chairperson retired judge Robert Redison Chinangwa, Abigail Dzimadzi, Paramount Chief Kawinga, George Jobe, Lexa Chalera and Brenda Vokhiwa Kapenda.
Other members are Very Reverend Dr. Timothy Nyasulu, Grace Massah and Hilda Soko. They are expected to also take their oaths later are.
Mutharika told the commissioners that the objective of the Commission is to establish the causes and circumstances leading to the attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism in this country.
He said Malawians need to know the causes and circumstances of the attacks, abductions and killings.
The President appealed to all Malawians with albinism to “soberly cooperate” with the Commission in order to find a lasting solution in addition to the measures government is implementing.
Mutharika also urged those who may have relevant information pertaining to the attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism to come forward and assist the Commission.
“But let me also warn the Commission to watch out for people who may be paid and manipulated in order to provide misleading information,” said Mutharika.
The Malawi leader claimed there is a precedent that people were paid to provide misleading information in previous presidential commission of inquiry, citing one that former president Joyce Banda has set to probe into the death of a fourth-year Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa who was found dead at the campus in Blantyre
Mutharika said in the Commission of Inquiry on the death of Chasowa which was led by Justice Andrew Nyirenda, “a police officer was paid money in order to implicate some people.”
He said: “I don’t want anything like that happening in this Inquiry. Don’t allow anyone to manipulate the process.”
President Mutharika added: “Therefore, we expect you to critically interrogate every informer in order to sift myth from reality, and truth from lies. In the end, Malawians expect nothing and nothing but the truth from you.”
The President said the Commission should be “the last guardians of truth” on the delicate matter.
“We expect you to rise above speculation and political manipulation,” he said.
In an immediate comment on President’s remarks, governance and rights activist Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that Mutharika’s statement may be interpreted by the public as a “deliberate tactic to interfere in the work of the Commission by influencing the outcome of the inquiry.”
He said: “The Commission of Inquiry should be left to do its job independently and should not be told who to listen to or not.”
Munthali said the President’s attack on the Commission of Inquiry on Chasowa murder is “regrettable and insensitive.”
He said: “This perhaps explains why his government has continue to ignore the quest for justice in Chasowa murder and that some of those implicated in the murder have been rewarded with public appointment.”
Chasowa was on September 24 2011 found dead at The Polytechnic campus in Blantyre with a deep cut in his head.
Police declared his death as suicide, claiming he had jumped to his death from a high rise building, but this claim was contradicted by a post-mortem report that said he had been murdered.
Meanwhile, Mutharika said the commission of inquiry on the attacks of PWAs is only one of the several measures his government is taking to end the plight of the people with albinism.
The commission is expected to finalise its work and submit a report to the President by April 30, 2019.
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