Malawi Police Service (MPS) Inspector General Rodney Jose has rebuffed civil society organisations’ (CSOs) request to discuss with him the status of investigations into the deaths of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) employee Issa Njauju and Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa.
Besides discussing the deaths, whose investigations have remained inconclusive, the CSOs—under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC)—also wanted to engage the police chief on the leaked ACB investigation report which reveals fraud in the K2.7 billion MPS food rations scam.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed yesterday that Jose was not ready to grant the activists an audience because “they already have answers to what they wanted to meet him for”.
He said the IG already responded to the CSOs’ concerns after they presented their 10-point petition of April 27 2018 to government following a peaceful nationwide demonstration.
Said Kadadzera: “After they presented their petition, government forwarded to the Malawi Police Service everything that concerned the police and the queries were duly responded to and sent back to the committee that was instituted by President Peter Mutharika to handle the matter.
“That special committee consolidated the responses which were then sent to them [CSOs] and made public so there is no rationale for them to see the IG again on the same issues.”
He said it was also ironic for the CSOs to seek an audience with the IG when they fought determinedly to influence Parliament not to confirm him on the basis that he was a murder suspect.
“Even after Parliament ultimately confirmed him they rose again, condemned him and alleged that he has a record of human rights violation. It is now surprising the very same people who have no faith and trust in the Inspector General want to discuss with him,” said Kadadzera.
But reacting to the snub, HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo described the IG’s route as retrogressive saying despite his “regrettable actions” they will never relent taking duty bearers to account.
He said: “It is sad. Pubic officers are supposed to always cherish engaging citizens, the people they serve because we are in a social contract. They should stop behaving like they are our bosses because they hold those offices on our behalf and they are answerable to us. The faster the IG realises. The issues we wanted to discuss with him are important and of national importance.”
On the issue of having concerns with Jose’s candidature, Mtambo said they maintain their position and “we had a basis… it is based on principles and nothing personal”.
The CSOs wrote the IG on July 17 2018 seeking an audience with him to point out lack of information regarding the deaths of Njauju and Chasowa arguing the continued delays were impeding the course of justice.
“The longer it [investigation] takes the higher the chances that evidence will be hard to generate. In this vein we wouldn’t want to speculate that the delays are rather deliberate,” reads part of the CSOs’ letter to Jose.
It is now seven years since the mysterious death of Chasowa, a fourth year University of Malawi engineering student without proper direction of the case. Similarly, the death of Njauju an ACB director of corporate affairs three years ago remains suspicious.
Two weeks ago, the CSOs also met ACB director general Reyneck Matemba who said the bureau follows procedures; hence, the need for the CSOs and others to respect its operations.
Matemba also refused to give a time frame on its investigations.