Police in Malawi have arrested five more suspects in connection with DPP cadets who wielded pangas on the eve of last yearâ€™s July 20 anti-government demonstrations.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional director of youth (South) Lewis Ngalande, who is said to have led the team, was picked on Monday.
Said national police spokesperson Dave Chingwalu last evening: â€œApart from Ngalande, we have arrested five more suspects and these went to Midima Resident Magistrateâ€™s Court in Limbe today [Tuesday].
â€œThey are remanded to Monday next week, including Ngalande.â€
Chingwalu said the suspects, whose names he did not disclose and have not been charged yet, were taken to the court to process their prison remand status, given that the 48-hour statutory holding period will have expired before the police investigations are over.
According to Ngalandeâ€™s lawyer, David Nyasulu, police are yet to record his clientâ€™s statement. Nyasulu said he was also processing Ngalandeâ€™s bail and expecting him to be taken to court this Wednesday.
In an earlier interview on Monday, Southern Region Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa said Ngalande faces counts of intimidation, possessing of offensive weapons and conduct likely to cause breach of peace as well as obstruction of traffic.
Meanwhile, Chingwalu dismissed Tuesdayâ€™s media reports that some suspects had been picked in connection with last yearâ€™s murder of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa. He said no action can be made on this case as an inquiry on the same is ongoing.
â€˜More arrests could followâ€™
Some sources earlier said the suspects, arrested between Monday and Tuesday, were being kept at Soche Police Station and are linked to the DPP Youth Cadets. Online publication, Nyasatimes, also reported on the arrests, but claimed these were in connection with the Chasowa case and mentioned some suspectsâ€™ names.
Said our source: â€œIt could be for a purpose that police is not ready to disclose now. It is possible more arrests will follow and if these arrests are made public, possible targets may escape.â€
The cadets arrests come at a time a commission of inquiry appointed by President Joyce Banda to investigate circumstances surrounding Chasowaâ€™s death is in progress. An inquest into the death of Chasowa is underway at the Blantyre Magistrateâ€™s Court.
An autopsy by College of Medicine in Blantyre showed that Chasowa died from assault to his head inflicted by a blunt instrument or instruments rather than a fall as was earlier claimed by police that he had committed suicide by jumping from a tall building at the campus.
He was found dead at the college on September 30 2011.
. On July 19 2011, DPP Youth Cadets in the partyâ€™s branded pick-up vehicles brandished pangas on the streets of Blantyre, warning to deal with then president Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s critics.
. Civil society organisations planned nationwide anti-government demonstrations the following day.