Civil society organisations (CSOs)have ganged up in solidarity with a 17-year-old University of Malawi (Unima) student, who was allegedly raped by a police officer while in custody at Limbe Police Station.
The organisations have been giving moral and psychological support to the girl since the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court started hearing the case last week.
The Polytechnic student is alleged to have been raped by a police officer identified as Andrew Chagaga and the prosecution team has since closed its case after parading eight witnesses.
Among the CSOs are Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Advocacy (Chreaa), Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc), Mulelewaka Foundation, Malawi Human Rights Commission, Safety 4 all Malawi and Women Institute of Self Reliance, Peace and Development.
Chreea litigation officer Ruth Kaima said her organisation and Salc are part of the prosecution team which is led by the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) while other organisations are offering support.
She said: “The organisations want to ensure that justice for the student prevails.
“We also hope this will set a precedent that men in uniform are not immune to the rule of law, especially now that we are witnessing various abuses orchestrated by the police.”
On his part, child protection officer for the Lilongwe-based Mulelewaka Foundation, Thom Phiri, said they joined the case because their CSO mainly works with young offenders.
“We want to see a robust system that protects children from sexual abuses. The Social Welfare Department must also step up its efforts and start working with children in conflict with the law,” he said.
Phiri also urged authorities to act decisively on duty-bearers such as teachers, lecturers, pastors, doctors, police and other people in positions of authority when they engage in any form of sexual harassment and abuse.
Hearing of the case has since concluded and the court has given the parties up to 14 days to file their submissions.
The student is currently being accommodated at a “safe home” under the supervision of a social worker from the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare for safety after reportedly receiving death threats.