Lawyer for Joshua Chisa Mbele has alleged that police assaulted the activist after he was arrested for allegedly inciting violence during demonstrations in Lilongwe on Friday.
But police have since dismissed Mbele’s claims as mere lies.
Mbele’s lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa alleged that his client sustained “multiple injuries and “his arm is swollen.”
“I am just coming from Namitete Police where he has been transferred after spending a brief moment at Lilongwe Police Station where he said he was severely beaten.
“He’s complaining about pains. He also says his phone handset crushed during the assault and it has been confiscated by the police ” the lawyer said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Khonyongwa further alleged that police have denied the activist access to medical assistance.
“In addition to that, he has not been told about the reasons behind his arrest. He has also not been charged. We can’t even trace who is handling his case,” he said.
Police national spokesperson Peter Kalaya, however, said the assault claims were not true.
“Nobody was assaulted and nobody has asked for medical assistance,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Kalaya said Mbele will be charged tomorrow.
“It is not true that he has not been told why he has been arrested. It is because of the violence and their failure to adhere to our initial agreement regarding the route which the demonstrations should be conducted.
“We have just finalised recording statements of all the 34 that were arrested on the day. They will be charged tomorrow,” he said.
Police arrested Mbele, who was the lead organiser of the protests alongside Levi Luwembe and 31 other protesters, near Sunbird Lilongwe as the group headed to Kamuzu Palace in defiance of an order to deliver their petition at Lilongwe District Commissioner’s office.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has called on government to “immediately and unconditionally release these protesters.”
In a press statement issued yesterday, HRDC said: “President Lazarus Chakwera and indeed the entire government machinery should know that the right to protest is a basic right that is enshrined in the Republican Constitution.
“[Section 38 of the 1994 Constitution of the Republic of Malawi state that “Every person shall have the right to peaceful assembly and demonstrations].