One of the officers at Balaka Police Station is claiming K7.5 million from Balaka Town Council chairperson for allegedly defaming her in circumstances involving police chasing worshippers at Balaka Town a fortnight ago.
But the council chair Michael Sauka Jnr has said the claimant, Annita Njanji, should claim the damages from the council as he intervened in the saga in his official capacity.
In an interview on Wednesday, Sauka Jnr said he was merely performing his duty as council chairperson.
“I was called to intervene as council chair, not as an individual. Whatever I did or said during that time to calm the situation after police unilaterally closed churches, I did it in my official capacity, not as an individual,” he said.
Added Sauka Jnr: “Anybody harmed by my actions should sue the council, not me personally.”
He claimed that besides being threatened with the lawsuit by Njanji, his wife, who is a police officer at the Eastern Region headquarters in Zomba, is also being threatened with a transfer to Rumphi.
According to Njanji’s claim for damages prepared by Chidothe, Chidothe and Company—dated May 1 2020—on or about April 26 2020 Sauka Jnr is alleged to have produced a voice note on Balaka Town Council WhatsApp alleging that some police officers, including Njanji, had received bribes from opposition political parties to lead a group of police officers to disperse worshippers.
Witness Nthenda of Chidothe, Chidothe and Company confirmed in a telephone interview to have received instructions from Njanji to commence court proceedings if Sauka doesn’t pay the claim for damages, which includes K500 000 legal fees.
“Police cannot take up that matter using a private lawyer. The police is represented by the Attorney General in any civil matter, so when you see a private lawyer taking up a case like that, just know that it is the individual whose rights were violated,” Nthenda said.
He said he will soon be taking the matter to court if Sauka Jnr does not respond as desired.
One of the congregants present when police interrupted prayers at Balaka CCAP, Davie Ziyadi, said Njanji was the first police officer to arrive at the church.
“She asked me why people were congregating when instructions were that people should not,” he claimed, adding that Njanji was in civilian clothes then.
Ziyadi said some police officers later arrived in a Land Cruiser and instructed the church leaders to tell their members not to congregate the following Sunday.
Commenting on the transfer of Sauka Jnr’s wife, Eastern Region police spokesperson Joseph Sauka [no relation] said transfers are a routine occurrence in police; hence there was nothing sinister about hers.
On Njanji’s claim for damages from Sauka Jnr, he said it is a matter being pursued at personal level.