Christian international non-governmental organisation World Vision Malawi (WVM) which has been supporting vulnerable children and communities in the country for more that three decades has joined the nationwide condemnation of the sexual assault of the 14-year-old girl while on remand at Chesepo Police Unit in Dowa and is appealing to the police to expedite the case and bring the culprit to justice.
The sexual assualt occurred on the night of October 4 this year in a police cell which kept a lone girl at the site manned by five male uniformed officer.
Briefing the media at World Vision Malawi headquarters in Lilongwe, National Director Hazel Nyathi expressed concern over the abuse against the innocent the girl child and she commended the media for playing their rightful role in exposing the rape incident.
“World Vision Malawi is deeply disturbed by the report carried in the media about the 14-year-ol girl who was put in police custody and we join forces that condemn the abuse of this young girl. It is a violation of child protection commitment we expect from institutions such as police,” Nyathi said.
She said World Vision Malawi hopes justice would prevail and that witness protection system is put in place in direct reference to a case involving an 18-year-old boy who wrote on his Facebook wall about the defilement incident and in retaliation the police are alleged to have traced and was taken to the police unit where he was allegedly assaulted by the law enforcers.
When Nyasa Times visited the boy at his school in the area of T/A Kayembe in Dowa (details of the school withheld for security reasons), the boy looked traumatised, saying he shall never forget ordeal which he went through while in the hands of police officers.
He said the police arrested him after he alerted the public through Facebook that a Chisepo police officer had sexually abused the minor. He showed Nyasa Times bruises on his back from the whipping he received.
The headteacher at his school said the boy has always been intelligent at the going by his records and was worried that what happened to him might affect his studies.
But National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he could not comment on the allegation referring us to a press statement he has released that says the Inspector General (IG) has set up an independent task team to investigate the matter.
Kadadzera states that the team will be chaired by Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police Dennis Chipao and also comprise members of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), and the Malawi Law Society (MLS)–human rights watchdogs which have also condemned the defilement, describing it as an infringement of the rights of the girl.
The statement, issued on October 14, reads in part: “It is saddening to learn that a girl child was defiled while in police custody either by the suspect or the police officer charged with responsibilities to protect her rights.
“In this regard, the Inspector General [IG] of Police has set up an independent task team to investigate allegations behind the case.”
Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) officials confirmed that they have evidence that a police officer, only identified Benjamin Kayembe, is in police custody over the rape which has shocked the nation.
The police initially said the girl was defiled by another suspect who was in an adjacent cell but the girl said the person who defiled her had keys to her cell, opened the door and duly closed it and assaulted her.
Meanwhile, the unit is closed and deserted to allow peace prevail.
Several human rights organisations such as Malawi Law Society (MLS), Women Layers Association (WLA), YouthNet and Counselling (Yoneco), Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and assistance (CHREAA) and Eye of the Child, among others have taken up the issue to represent the girl after the police tried to bully her and her mother to withdraw her claim that she was raped.
Commenting on the IG’s decision for an independent inquiry, WLA Public Relations Officer, Sally Mtambo said what the IG has done is a good development but as WLA they would like to state that the said inquiry should reach logical conclusion on the issues.
“We have heard a lot of reports regarding this incident and it is our hope that the Inquiry will investigate all these claims and provide necessary recommendations for the achievement of justice,” Mtambo said. “We have seen several inquiries which have ended up political gimmicks we hope this one will be different.
Asked if it is it proper to institute an investigation when the case is already in court, Mtambo said: “From our information, the case is not yet in court. The prosecution team has not yet presented the case in court. Some members of WLA are on the prosecution team and we will inform you once they commence prosecution. As of now there is no date set for the case.
“Furthermore, a part from the rape issue. The issue of incarcerating a child should also be looked into ensuring that the police should always act within the law. Children are not supposed to be incarcerated unless in special circumstances. Those who made the decision to incarcerate this girl should be held accountable.”
MHRC executive secretary David Nungu said MHRC directors Harry Mitochi and Priscilla Thawe, who are seasoned investigators at the commission, will be part of personnel to be deployed in a team that will investigate the matter and hand over the information for prosecution to use .Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :