Malawi Police in Lilongwe has said it has arrested 68 suspects after “criminal acts”, including looting and the stoning of cars and buildings during demonstrations on Thursday to express displeasure over the way the May 21 elections were handled by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Jane Ansah SC.
“So far we have arrested 68 suspects strongly connected to the looting and injuring of police officers,” police said in a statement issued by National Police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent James Kadadzera.
He said the suspects were apprehended at Kamphata (16), Lilongwe Old Town (8), Lilongwe City Centre (15), Mzuzu (18), and 11 in Rumphi.
Kadadzera, while assuring the public of their total safety and security if the incidences of violence and looting in some parts of the country, take place, said current situation is relatively calm and being closely monitored by the law enforcement agencies.
“The Malawi Police Service (MPS) strongly condemns the criminal acts and looting that resurfaced during the demonstrations in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba, Mzuzu, Rumphi, and Karonga on Thursday. Some shops in Lilongwe City centre were smashed, some roads in town were blocked and tyres burnt.
“In isolated cases, the rioters harassed innocent bystanders and pelted stones on vehicles and buildings. In Mzuzu 55 out of 231 bicycles that were stolen from Mzuzu ADD offices have been recovered. We have also recovered 4 computer monitors and 2 CPUs,” reads the statement.
Police said the law enforcers are vigilant and alert in making sure that everything is under control, day and night.
“ We have put in place strategies and modalities so that citizens can normally access services at hospitals, schools, shops, and markets.”
Police stresses that the perpetrators will be answerable in court as individuals.
The statement reads: “The Police are also warning all those who are creating and spreading scary messages and audios on social media propagating hatred and violence that they will be traced and answer in court.”
Kadzadzera said it is a crime to fabricate messages on social media or any other medium, bent at instilling fear or panic on Malawians.
Protest organisers, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) were defiant, vowing to go back to the streets calling for Ansah, to resign.
A new round of protests is scheduled to resume on Monday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :