Police in Mzuzu have arrested 22 people on suspicion that they were part of a mob that damaged Enukweni Police Unit in Mzimba District and injured three police officers on Friday.
The mob attacked the facility after police came to the rescue of Geoffrey Nkhambule, 23, suspected to have stabbed to death, Jeradin Chirwa, 25. Both the suspect and the deceased come from Shema Village, T/A Mtwalo in the same district.
According to Mzuzu Police spokesperson Martin Bwanali, the mob wanted to avenge the death of Chirwa, but police came to his rescue. The police arrested Nkhambule who was taken to Mzuzu Police Station.
He alleged that Nkhambule stabbed Chirwa during a quarrel that ensued as the villagers celebrated the installation of village head Kajawo.
“The victim was rushed to Enukweni Heath Centre where he was pronounced dead upon arrival,” said Bwanali.
The arrest of Nkhambule angered some community members who, in retaliation, stormed and vandalised Enukweni Police Unit.
According to Bwanali, the villagers smashed windows and destroyed furniture. Officers on duty were overwhelmed and three were injured in the fracas. The injured officers were rushed to Ekwendeni Mission Hospital where they were treated as outpatients.
“Destroying government property won’t help anyone. If we withdraw our officers, who will suffer? The very same community will suffer. So, like I said, mob justice is illegal, people should refrain from it,” he said.
Some police officers from Mzuzu were later deployed in the area where they arrested 22 people in connection with the damaging of the police unit. They have since been charged with malicious damage.
Livingstonia Synod Church and Society Programme director Moses Mkandawire condemned the conduct of the villagers. He said people should refrain from the tendency of taking the law into their hands, adding that a suspect should be treated as a suspect until proven guilty by a competent court.
Mkandawire also said vandalising government structures will not take the country anywhere. He said there is need for people to respect government structures and protect them.
However, he said there is need for proper research to establish why Malawians now take the law into their hands. Mkandawire said such acts are a manifestation of a bigger problem, hinting that people could be frustrated with various issues, including poverty.
“There is need for national dialogue to discuss such issues. Malawi has enjoyed peace for a long time and all of a sudden people are taking the law into their hands. This is a security and human rights concern, so there is need to find solutions to that,” said Mkandawire.