The court might have concluded the matter in 2012, but the search for justice for Kafukule residents, who were shot by police five years ago, continues with no hope in sight.
As if to prove that justice delayed is justice denied, the victims are still waiting for compensation despite Mzuzu High Court registrar Dicks Sankhulani ordering government in 2012 to pay K4.6 million (US$11 031) to three people injured in the fight and families of the four killed during the incident.
In an interview, one of the injured, Ken Nyirenda, recounted with pain the struggles they have been subjected to since November 20 2009 when a police officer beat to death one Robert Chima in a moment of sheer brutality and overzealousness.
The following day, a community uprising in search for answers saw two law enforcers recklessly firing into the crowd and killing Herbert Ngulube, Christopher Masamba and Chipateni Lungu—with Nyirenda, Joshua Moyo, and Laswell Mhango injured.
“The injury has been hard to bear, but the wait for compensation is more painful; it is reducing us and our families to hopelessness,” said Nyirenda who lost a thumb in the bloody cross-fire that forced families of the dead and injured four to go to court.
He explained: “After enduring three years of waiting for the High Court to make the ruling, the delay to get our dues has left us wondering what more should we do to ensure government respects the judgement. Is it above the law?”
When asked when government would finally put the issue to rest, Attorney General Anthony Kamanga referred the matter to the complainants lawyer Victor Gondwe.
However, Kamanga in August last year told our sister newspaper, The Nation, he was dumbfounded that the victims had not yet received their dues all this time.
At the time, he said: “I am aware of that matter and I am surprised that the people have not been compensated up to now. The challenge is with the process of compensation. You know at [the Ministry of Justice] we don’t pay compensations, it is Treasury that looks into that through the compensation account.
“There is no need for the victims to worry because they have to be compensated. However, they should have informed my office. I didn’t know anything. I am very sorry and, if we had money, we would have paid them but here at Justice we don’t process cheques,”
But it appears the victims will have to wait longer to see the matter resolved as the AG said on Monday: “Ask their lawyer, he has all the information.”
But in a separate interview, the lawyer could neither say when the long-awaited payment would be made nor the cause of the delay.
“We are still pushing for payment, but there are a number of outstanding cases, including the one from Kafukule. Government has not come out clear why they have not paid the victims after the ruling in 2012, yet one can safely assume that it has a backlog of cases to attend to,” said Gondwe.
The lawyer, who boasted having a backlog of claims for payment dating back to 2000, wondered why the people were still waiting for their dues when politicians and other connected people get theirs in no time.