“I was brutally beaten up by a group of young men who thronged my house some minutes after 6 in the evening. I shouted for help to no avail,” recounts Giveness Lazoni Msumali.
It was in February 2014. She suffered a ruthless beating at her house. The group of about 21 youngmen came looking for Richard Masitala, son to Msumali, who was not at home then. People heard her cry, but no one came to her rescue.
The following morning Richard found himself in the rough hands of the same group right at Kandikole Market. He was severely bludgeoned and sympathizers carried him to his mother’s house. He nursed his wounds while seeing the assailants up and about.
On March 30, 2014, Msumali a resident of Area 36, a location at the hub of Lilongwe City, joyfully went out for her usual daily business at Bwalo la Njobvu to sell her merchandise. Unknown to her the day’s sunset was the last for her son.
“I will weep for my boy for all my life. I think like it’s just a dream, it is an experience I’ll remember till my grave. My son died on March 30, 2014 and will clock one solid year in grave while the assailants are left scot free…,” recounted Msumali as she broke into tears.
“The boy was my only hope. This sad incident happened at a time he was about to leave Malawi for South Africa to hunt for greener pastures. He died with his passport just three days in his hand,” she narrated, tears dripping her cheeks.
The beating unto death locals say was a rivalry gang battle.
Lilongwe police records show that the Area 36 has ‘11 Bongos’ ‘Soft boys’, ‘Ghettos’, ‘Bad boys’ and ‘Seka unye’ ‘Zikwanje Boys’ ‘Madala Crew’, Soweto crew, ‘Pink girls’ among others.
Why was he be so mercilessly beaten to death? Witnesses said he was a ‘Soft Boy’ and was killed by‘11 Bongos’.
Sharing margins with areas 22 and Falls Estate 1 which are comparatively tranquil; Area 36 according to the police reports is believed to be territory for over ten gangs. The area had recently proved more hostile as these mobsters caused daily assaults, pick pocketing and beatings in broad day light.
While Msumali still mourns, some people are suffering in silence, but the Police stretched law’s long hand to get the notorious gang masters a thing the law enforcers described as ‘uprooting the criminal from its base’, and “Amon the ‘11 Bongos’ leader was recently apprehended.
According to police publicist for Lilongwe, Kingsley Dandaula, the arrest of Amoni has exposed him one of the hard core criminals in Lilongwe and records revealed that he had been nabbed several times before on numerous offences and had indeed served a handful of custodial punishments with some of his sentences escaped un finished.
But Msumali still wept saying arrests of afew individuals would have little impact as the leader had planted more youngsters who were still terrorizing people.
“No changes at all, gang followers are still breaching people’s peace. Unfortunately, some leaders seem to be nurturing these gangs because some have them in their own chieftaincy homes. All people and village heads should sincerely hold hands if police is to win this fight and if area 36 is to enjoy peace,” she added.
Msumali who hails from Nyanga village, Traditional Authority Kaphuka in Dedza further lamented that the harassers and suspected murderers of their son were seen in the location walking scot free.
“Why is there no arrest or feedback from police? Justice is folding and it pains me seeing the murder suspects of my boy free. The squad that came at my home beating me up and baying for my late boy’s blood still cause havoc,” she said wiping tears with her headgear cloth.
But Lilongwe Police Publicist Kingsley Dandaula said police were amking headway citing the arrest of ‘Amoni’ who hails from Kaondo village, Senior Traditional Authority Tsabango.
However, Dandaula concurred with Msumali saying, “Some village heads are shielding these gangs. We understand some are related to the village heads.
Said he, “Nonetheless, police is assuring people that the situation will change soon.”
Witnesses say the terror is not limited to homes as people in markets meet the same. Most at risk are illegal markets where they collect market fees.
It started immediately their leader was nabbed, another assumed command and re-organised and was in the interim collecting market fees at the illegal St. Johns market, and the boys claimed their activities were graced by the Msamba Parish which the church denied.
The Church Clerk Tresford Mvula Speaking for Msamba Parish Roman Catholic under Lilongwe Diocese confirmed the presence of the gangs in the illegal market that was close to the parish.
“Boys were indeed bothering people at the market. Firstly they used church’s name that it had sent them to collect the market fees so that proceeds are equally shared between us. It a cooked story,” Mvula said.
“Chiefs of this area are aware of these deviant crews. Why do they sink heads in the sand? The church is concerned with the problems these boys are causing. They are known by everyone and some are tired of reporting them to police believing that less is being done to halt their barbaric acts, ” he said adding ‘11 bongos’ crew was spoiling church’s image.
But the second in command has also been nabbed and it brings a flicker of hope to many. Police say he is charged with murder. But previous reports also indicated that he killed his first wife.
“We are still investigating on the issues linking to the death of his first wife,” says Dandaula confirming that, the battles between the ‘Soft Boys’ crew and ‘11 Bongos’ cost the life of Richard Masitala.
However the police spokesperson said currently police have intensified day and night police patrols and community policing in Area 36 and Lilongwe in general to stifle further sprouting of the gang crews and terror.
He said, “The 11 Bongos second in command Tiyese James is arrested on murder charges. He is suspected of leading the murdering of Richard Masitala in a fight between Soft boys and 11 Bongos gangs. It’s now two ring leaders in police custody with more arrests to follow.”
Recently police in Mchinji also arrested about 17 young boys who called themselves ‘Boko Haram’ aged between 14 to 16 years of age that bullied school going children.
However, police have issued a fresh caution to parents to monitor their children against forming and joining gangs saying nobody will escape from police long hand and that once arrested they would face the law.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :