The Magistrate and the High Courts in Lilongwe, institutions that are regarded as pillars of safeguarding human rights, seem themselves not to be sensitive to such rights as remanded suspects brought to the courts for trials are denied access to the toilet.
Police Senior Supt. Damiano Kapita, who is station prosecution officer for Lilongwe District and was at the court Monday told Lilongwe News Agency that the situation is pathetic.
“We don’t know what to do with suspects in our care when need arises for them to visit toilet. There is no toilet where we can take them to here, as a result we collect all of them, take them behind the courts in the maize garden and tell them to help themselves, but those who want to defecate are told to dig a hole and bury it after use,” revealed Kapita.
Kapita said he took advantage to table the issue last year when Health officials from Kamuzu Central Hospital came to brief them on Ebola issues, and he recently brought it up again on court users meeting for Lilongwe District but nothing has been done yet.
One of the suspects waiting for trial at the court said they are facing a difficult situation. He narrated an ordeal he witnessed when one of their friends soiled himself while waiting for trial in the waiting shed at the courts.
“It was a bad sight, we tried to clean him but it was not possible as a result he failed to enter the courtroom for trial,” he said.
Kapita said in the past there was a toilet in the magistrate chambers where all suspects would visit when pressed but it has since been closed and seems it is being used as a storage facility possibly for closed files.
“As we are talking now, the toilet room looks like it has been turned into something like storage where old court files and other things are kept and it does not work as a toilet anymore,” Kapita confided.
Deputy Registrar of the Lilongwe Courts referred the matter to the judiciary Public Relations Officer, Mlenga Mvula who failed to respond to a questionnaire despite several days of waiting.
The High Court Registrar, Justus Kashindo, was reported to be out of office and no one was willing to speak to the reporter.
In another development at the same Courts, the Lilongwe Chief Magistrate Court has been without water for several months now after being disconnected due to unpaid bills rumoured to amount to K3 million.
This has brought a lot of inconvenience to officers as well as court users such as police and suspects. They cannot access drinking water when thirsty, the officers and police cannot use toilets.
The reason for non-payment of the water bills was not established as there was no one to provide information but it is said that the pipe supplying water to the court got broken and a lot of water was lost. Rumours have it that this is where the court accrued huge bills, but discussions were said to be underway with Lilongwe Water Board to connect them because it was not their fault. –Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :