Malawi Police Service (MPS) has admitted that it has failed to comply with determinations of the Office of the Ombudsman due to poor filing of the dockets.
Most of the 13 cases that the Ombudsman cited to be non-compliant turned out to have dockets missing which had information pertaining to the cases involving injustices committed by police officers.
The Legal Affairs Committee summoned MPS to explain why they had not complied with determinations on cases which included beatings and killing of suspects, confiscated drivers licences and many such cases.
Deputy Commissioner of Police and Director of Legal Services Mwayi Kalua said MPS was unable to conduct an inquest as ordered by the Ombudsman into the murder at police hands of a man in Mwanza due to a missing case file.
“We traced the officer who was handling the case and had been transferred, but he insisted the file was left in Mwanza,” he said.
In another case where the Ombudsman ordered that the police should resume prosecution of a suspect who had been on bail for a long time, the police told the committee that the investigator had died and the file was missing.
“It is very embarrassing and does not reflect well on the Malawi Police Service because it gives the impression that we are deliberately hiding information so that our officers get off the hook easily, but that is not the case,” Kalua said.
He said the police would consider rolling out the filing system at Lilongwe Model Police Station to other stations and update the committee on these efforts.
On his part, Inspector General (IG) of Police Lexten Kachama asked for 14 days to carry out investigations into the Mwanza case.
“Within these days we should be able to know whether to close the file or the issue should reach its mature conclusion,” he said.
The committee and Ombudsman granted the IG’s request to open duplicate dockets in cases where they could no longer be traced with the help of the Ombudsman.
In another case, a suspect successfully sued the police to give him back a vehicle impounded after he jumped bail on a robbery charge.
Kalua said the suspect had reappeared demanding to be prosecuted knowing full well the case docket could not be found.
Kachama said the suspect could be rearrested and the docket duplicated to continue the case.
The cases in which the police have not complied with the determination were conducted between 2000 and 2008.
The Legal Affairs Committee has summoned several ministries and departments for failure to comply with determinations of the Office of the Ombudsman among them State House, MPS, Malawi Defence Force, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Health, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.
The Office of the Ombudsman was established by the Constitution to investigate injustice where a person does not appear to have reasonable remedy available through the court or appeal from court.