Poly victims identified: City authorities fear JB

Hours after a vehicle hit to death a University of Malawi student at the Polytechnic Campus pedestrian crossing in Blantyre blame game has started amongst authorities purportedly for fear of the iron hand of President Joyce Banda.

President Banda declared a few days ago when she swore in a commission of inquiry to investigate the murder of another Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa that she would not just watch when people get killed mercilessly.

And Blantyre City Council authorities fear the student’s death at the protected crossing zone which claimed the life a 19-year-old female university student will likely attract the attention of Banda’s administration and since sent trembles within the council.

The accident occurred at around 16.30 hours of Thursday when a lorry carrying quarry stone coming from Limbe side heading towards Blantyre hit two female students after developing a brake failure.

Mphatso Chipala: Receiving treatment

One of the students died upon arrival at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital while the other is in a stable condition, according to hospital Chief Nursing Officer Lucy Chigwenembe.

In reaction to development, the irate students smashed the vehicle before setting it ablaze while the driver managed to run for his dear life but is currently under police custody.

“We are keeping him and after investigations he will be charged with either manslaughter or murder depending on the outcome of the investigations,” Southern Region Police Deputy Spokesperson Beatrice Bwanali said Thursday evening.

The students run amok before police barricaded the area and threw teargas to disperse the angry learners.

Traffic lights (robots) were vandalised some few months ago but despite being one of the busiest pedestrians crossing points in the city, the council has not taken an initiative to replace them.

After the death of the student a number of meetings took place at BCC offices where the blame for not replacing the lights was being pushed from one office to another.

Some social commentators have described the shocking death as a sign of negligence on the part of the city council.

Police are blaming BCC for failing to maintain the robots in time but the council says the blame cup should go back to the police for failing to enforce laws of Malawi.

A senior traffic police officer told Nyasa Times they have been pressing BCC for the past three months to do maintenance work on the place but they have just been playing it “relaxed”.

“They have to take the blame. That’s negligence. How can traffic lights on a busy highway be nonfunctional for over three months?”queried the officer based at the Southern Region Police Headquarters.

When contacted for comment BCC Director of Engineering Services Engineer, Francis Namonjeza, was reportedly out of office but an officer within the department said it was sad that police were balming the council when they too had a responsibility.

“Firstly, the vehicle is said to have hit the passengers due to faulty breaks. Secondly, such vehicles, according to traffic regulations laws are not eligible to be using the highway but police let them go ahead. And there has been no known record that the police have taken to task the drivers who defy this order even those with vehicles that are maintained along the highway,” he explained.

Apart from BCC who maintain the robots there are also other players like the Road Safety Council of Malawi who look into the issue of traffic lights.

Early 2000, BCC wanted to erect a fly over at the Polytechnic to join the two campuses but the move was reportedly thwarted by the students who refused.

Meanwhile, according to the statement by Polytechnic,  the two students hit by the are Thokozani Chalemera and Mphatso Chipala.

“The two student involved were studying with our Management Developing Center.Both were studying Human Resources Management” read the statement.

The statement further Chalemera was pronounced dead on arrival while Chipala still being treated after sustaining serious injuries.

According to the statement the body of Thokozani which is being kept at College of Medicine mortuary will be taken to her home village in Mangochi for burial

“The body of late Thokozani will be taken from College of Medicine mortuary at around 10:00 am this morning to Mangochi district where burial will be conducted on Saturday, 6th May 2012 at Mpondasi area,” said the statement. –(Additional reporting by Ulemu Teputepu)

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