Over the past few days, a Weekend Nation crew has been piecing together complaints from people who say they were beaten up, raped and vandalised in many ways by uniformed police officers in and around Msundwe, Mpingu and M’bwatalika areas on the outskirts of Lilongwe.
The complaints are based on a vicious reprisal attack on the people after some protesters had brutally killed Superintendent Usumani Imedi of the Malawi Police Mobile (MPS) Service on October 8.
An angry mob of the protesters stoned Imedi to death as he led police officers in bringing law and order by repelling the violent protesters and removing stones and logs which they used to block traffic on the busy Lilongwe-Mchinji Road.
The protesters took the action mainly to prevent governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters from attending President Peter Mutharika’s rally at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe early on October 8.
A week later, some victims were still afraid to be interviewed by the media. But others were forthcoming and showed us some evidence of some of the physical and psychological pain. We captured some of the trail of damage.
In summary, the critical issues our interviews unearthed include:
- That the main vicious Police onslaught against the people happened on the night of October 8, hours after the late Superintendent Imedi had been killed.
- That so vicious was the October 8 reprisal, including sweeping arrests of suspected men and boys, that the men and boys dared not sleep in their homes for at least five nights after fleeing to distant graveyards, gardens and other hideouts.
- That the people noticed that many of the Police were in uniform but acted crudely by exhibiting criminal traits like robbery, battery and sexual harassment, including raping women and girls.
- That the attackers are referred to as the dreaded cadets, some of whom had unkempt beards, One of the Msundwe victims Tamala Isaac narrates her ordeal hair and dreadlocks. The victim insists that the normal police officers should explain how the ‘devils’ wore the full police uniform and were working in cahoots with the ‘normal’ looking police officers who were more civil as they were trying to find out who participated in murdering the police officer.
- That, compared to their colleagues in and around Msundwe, the residents of Mpingu were hit much harder in the reprisals.