Police admit ‘intelligent lapse’ on Mzuzu demo

Police top brass in the northern region on Monday shamelessly admitted ignorance about a group which they said made parallel planning to steal and loot during a police crackdown on demonstrations against President Bingu wa Mutharika’s government in July held in Mzuzu.

“We overlooked that but as Police we were caught unawares,” Mzuzu Police Station Officer in Charge Gertrude Kachinga said.

All the Police Officers who testified during a Presidential Commission on Inquiry currently sitting in Mzuzu talked of this ‘mythical group’ but they failed to give details of its leadership, structure or membership.

Kachinga: Testified under oath

“It seems this group was well prepared than Police because they had petrol bombs, stones and by far they outnumbered us,” Kachinga said.

They also failed to explain whether this group still exists or not. And how many members of this ‘mirage group’ they arrested.

“It could also mean that the Police also want to push blame to something that does not exist,” a security expert told NyasaTimes on Tuesday.

The admission by Police is an indication that our Police service does not have ears on the ground and acts on whims, according to our source.

Kachinga said the turn of events in Mzuzu on July 20th overwhelmed the Police who had to make other contingent plans to quell the situation.

“We thought it will be peaceful and fruitful demonstrations but when a mob descended to the Central Business District that’s when we new that something was wrong and that we were dealing with something else other than demonstrators” she said.

Kachinga, who struggled with the Queen’s language, contradicted herself many times and the Commission had to extend her 30 minutes to 60 minutes to get a clear picture of what she was saying.

“Those who died were killed by stray bullets. Nobody was ordered to kill despite instruction from the regional headquarters. Its unfortunate that smoke people died,” she said.

At one point Kachinga said she did not know the number of Police Officers that were on duty on that day. But later said she was in command of 136 Officers.

Regional Communications Officer Frank Kumukumu told the commission that demonstrations did not take place in Mzuzu adding that people who were killed were not demonstrators but looters and thugs.

“What did happen in Mzuzu is arson, looting and killings. The scale was overwhelming t the extent that they gave us a tough time. We run out of tear smoke and blank ammunition,” Kumukumu said.

Kachinga earlier told the Commission that the demonstrations did take place and the petition was delivered to Mzuzu City Council CEO Richard Hara.

But Hara, who was the first to take the stand, said the demonstrations did not take place.

“To the best of my knowledge if they did take place it was just a few meters and the Police stopped them.”

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