Newly-confirmed Inspector General (IG) of Police Rodney Jose says he is hurt by accusations that he murdered The Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa and has challenged anyone with evidence to take him to court.
The police chief expressed the sentiments during a news conference in Lilongwe on Friday, barely 24 hours of his elevation to the IG rank after acting for about three months.
Jose said: “My heart bleeds when people accuse me of killing Robert Chasowa. My conscience is clean and my hands are also clean. I did not take part in the killing of this young man.
“Yes, I worked with Chasowa; but on a professional level and wherever his spirit is, it is my witness. My other witness is God and I know it is by God’s grace that I am an IG.”
Chasowa, then a fourth-year engineering student, was on September 24 2011 found dead at The Polytechnic campus in Blantyre with a deep cut in his head.
Police declared his death as suicide, claiming he had jumped to his death from a high rise building. But later information on the matter said the victim had been murdered.
During deliberations in Parliament on Wednesday on whether to confirm Jose as IG, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson on legal matters Maxwell Thyolera told the House that despite Jose being qualified for the top job, his name had not been cleared by his alleged involvement in the murder of Chasowa.
Earlier, activists Gift Trapence of the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) and Timothy Mtambo of the Centre for Human and Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) petitioned Parliament to reject Jose over his alleged involvement in the Chasowa murder.
But Jose sailed through with 96 ‘yes’ votes against 55 ‘no’ votes and two abstentions.
During the briefing after a farewell parade for his predecessor Lexten Kachama, Jose said if anyone has concrete evidence, he is ready to be dragged to court, even as an IG. He said no one is above the law.
He said: “I have no fear. We have seen presidents being dragged to court after serving their terms of office all over the world and the same may happen to me, but my conscience, as I have already said, is clear.”
As if concurring with concerns raised by some MCP legislators that Malawians have lost trust in the service, Jose was candid enough to admit that the police image is tainted.
He said: “We need to work hard as police to bring back the lost trust. I will make sure that we do our job professionally from the lowest ranked officer up to my office.”
In his remarks, Kachama praised Jose as a man of high discipline, down to earth, hard-working and visionary.
“I have worked with IG Jose for a long time. I joined the service in 1979 while Jose joined in 1983. We have been working closely together even some of the successes that I registered as IG are partly because of him, as he was Deputy IG operations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chancellor College associate professor of law Edge Kanyongolo on Friday expressed reservations on whether Jose, with the Chasowa murder accusations surrounding him, can speed up investigations of long-unresolved murder cases.
He said: “In theory, it is possible. But in practice, my view is that I have serious doubts whether anyone can effectively investigate himself or herself.”
Kanyongolo said the broader issue lies on whether the new IG has leadership skills that will make the MPS free from political manipulation, especially as next year’s tripartite elections loom.
“Jose must be asked why, after much investment [largely from donors], police reforms have failed. I can answer my own question, actually: the reforms have failed because of the politicisation of the police.
“So, what I am worried about is the bigger picture —whether he is capable of handling this most serious issue confronting the police today. For example, will the (multi-party) politicians and supporters be handled fairly and equally?” he asked.