The civil society has slammed President Peter Mutharika’s appointment of Rodney Jose as Deputy Inspector General of Police, saying the development is a minus in the administration’s respect for human rights.
Jose was Police Commissioner for South during the murder of Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa which a judge-led death inquiry reported several irregularities by police, including possible cover-up attempts in the murder.
The inquiry revealed that Jose facilitated a meeting where the police attempted to recruit Chasowa, then a Polytechnic student and a critic of former president Bingu wa Mutharika alongside his college activist students, to foil planned civil society demonstrations but later fell out with the group.
Speaking in an interview, Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo said Jose has no moral mandate to occupy the senior post at the police service and called upon Mutharika to reverse the appointment.
“He [Jose] will not act objectively on the matter of Chasowa. It is a matter of ethics. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law but we are saddened that the President has gone ahead to appoint him. It gives us a lot of questions than answers on whether the President is committed to respecting human rights,” said Mtambo.
He said the development is more worrying at the time there is lack of political will to prosecute the Chasowa case and July 20 deaths.
“As human rights defenders, our concern is about the victim; we do not care who did what. We just want justice. Even the UN periodic review recommended the prosecutions; this is why we have been calling for an independent police complaints commission because police cannot objectively investigate themselves,” added Mtambo.
Leading opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) deputy publicist Ezekiel Ching’oma condemned Jose’s appointment.
“The Chasowa family in particular and Malawians in general deserve justice. They deserve the truth. For us in MCP, the appointment vindicates our fears that the DPP-led government has no interest whatsoever in ensuring the Chasowa family finds justice. DPP-government should not make a mistake, Robert Chasowa was a final-year student vital to his family and they do not deserve this,” said Ching’oma.
State House press secretary Fredrick Ndala said the State House could not comment on the matter as it was legal in nature.
“The issue can be best handled by the Attorney General [AG] because of the nature of the background. The AG should provide guidance on the matter,” said Ndala.
Efforts to speak to AG Kalekeni Kaphale proved futile as of Thursday as his mobile phone went unanswered.
According to findings of the Commission of Inquiry which was instituted by the late Mutharika and was headed by Supreme Court Judge Andrew Chotcha Nyirenda, police officers who first responded to the Chasowa murder scene clearly suspected the deceased to be a murder victim. However, police changed positions later and referred to the death as suicide.
Several people, including the ruling DPP Member of Parliament Noel Masangwi, DPP’s director of Youth Lewis Ngalande, prominent boxing promoter Ben Chitenje, Godfrey Botomani were arrested in connection to the murder.