Protesters demanding the removal of some Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) officers in Karonga on Tuesday left three police officers injured and four police check-points vandalised along the M1 in the border district.
The protesters, mostly businesspersons, accuse some officials from the public tax collector of “demanding too much” from them.
Prior to the protests at Karonga Freedom Park, there were running battles between Mwanjawala Village residents and the business community. However, the fracas did not stop the irate business community who first proceeded to Rukuru Roadblock where they overpowered police officers and torched the police shelter.
Karonga Police Station officer in-charge Assistant Commissioner Sam Nkhwazi said he was yet to get a detailed report on the status of some of his officers who were assaulted in the fracas.
But a health worker at Karonga District Hospital, who did not want to be named, said they had treated about seven officers while the district hospital’s director of health and social services David Sibale said they had treated three police officers.
In an interview on the sidelines of the protests, Karonga Market chairperson Goodwill Ghambi said they decided to march after the expiry of a two-week ultimatum given to both the police and MRA at a meeting held at a lodge at the boma.
He alleged that from Songwe Border Post to Chitimba roadblock in Rumphi, there are six MRA and police roadblocks where officers demand money from business persons.
During the demonstrations, the protesters vandalised Iponga, Rukuru and Matemaroadlocks, but left out Kiwe and Chilumba MRA roadblocks.
In a telephone interview, MRA director of corporate affairs Steven Kapoloma said Kiwe Roadblock cannot be removed as it is gazetted while Chilumba is the only fixed roadblock in the Northern Region.
He said Kiwe, like Chilumba, Nathenje in Lilongwe and Lirangwe in Blantyre, is a fixed roadblock; hence, cannot be removed.
Said Kapoloma: “We can only make Rukuru Roadblock to be a mobile one.”