The father of one of the girls who got slapped and ill-treated by policemen during anti-fees hike demonstrations by students at Chancellor College in Zomba early this week has vowed to sue the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
John Kapito, the outspoken consumer rights activist who is executive director of the Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama), told Weekend Nation yesterday that her daughter, Maya-a fourth-year student at the constituent college (popularly known as Chanco) of the University of Malawi-was one of the two girls filmed being ill-treated by the policemen in a video clip that has gone viral on social media.
“I am taking up this shocking case with my lawyer. I took Maya to a doctor and she is not well; she is traumatised,” declared Kapito.
The leaked video clip shows two unarmed girls cowering and cornered by at least five nearby policemen on the peripheral of the university campus ill-treating the girls. It was at a time when policemen were chasing students who had been demonstrating against their need to increase their contributory fees from K275 000 to a minimum of K400 000.
Kapito said it is high time police officers paid a high price for their tendency to use brutal force, even on people acting within their rights, like demonstrating peacefully.
He wondered why Malawian policemen seem to ignore what they were taught in extensive police reform training sessions, which had been facilitated by the British Government, on effective crowd and riot control tactics which hardly result into bloodshed or civilian casualties.
“I think our police are always over-zealous; we know that they always want to show that they have more power than the citizen. He expressed regret over the ill-treatment all the students received, stressing that each one -irrespective of their family backgrounds-deserves justice and respect as human beings.
Surprisingly, even by midday yesterday-some three days after the video clip was circulated-National Police deputy spokesperson Thomeck Nyaude said he had not yet seen it, adding that he could not, therefore, comment on it.
Meanwhile, Women and Law in Malawi (Wilsa) and gender activist Emma Kaliya have condemned the unorthodox behavioiur of the police and called on authorities to discipline the perpetrators of the violence. Kaliya said the incident is a manifestation of a failure by the police in crowd control tactics. n