Official, Police contradict on looting, vandalism

An official from Karonga District Commission’s Office has blamed the Police’s use of teargas for the death, looting and vandalism that took place at Karonga during the July 20th 2011 anti-government protests.

Director of Administration Steve Chima said Police’s conduct after they had escorted the marchers to the DC’s Office left a lot to be desired.

“People had gone to watch a play by a local drama group called Chikolopa Dram group near the bus depot but the Police threw teargas at them. This provoked every thing,” Chima said.

Masina: Testifying

He said people started looting and vandalising property after they tasted teargas.

But when Commissioner James Naphambo put it to Chima that may be Police were forced to fire Tear Gas after people started looting and destroying property.

“I don’t know but I think Police acted unprofessionally,” Chima said.

“Did you see them?” Naphambo asked. “I was not there,” Chima responded.

But the Malawi Police Service as usual has shifted the blame saying the distribution of free alcoholic sachets to demonstrators caused the people to be rowdy and uncontrollable.

“The people were drunk and our investigations revealed that they were drunk on that day,” Former Officer-in-Charge for Karonga Police Station Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Alex Malili Masina said.

However, Officer in Charge of Ipyana Police Mobile Service Manase Wilimoti Chimwenje said Police fired Tear Gas because people were stoning them.

“These people were well organised. Some were collecting stones and putting them in piles closer to those doing the actually stoning,” said Chimwenje, who opted to testify in Chichewa.

Masina told a Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the July 20 anti – government protests in Karonga that an unidentified man from Lilongwe brought bales of alcoholic sachets.

He said Police investigations have so far failed to identify the man.

Masina said this on Tuesday during his testimony during a Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the July 20 anti – government protests.

The Commission, which is sitting in Karonga, is getting testimonies from the public on what transpired during that day, specifically trying to find out what lead to the looting and arson and the subsequent death of one person.

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