The Independent Complaints Commission (ICC), which was established to deal with complaints against police, is set to investigate alleged Msundwe sexual assault and rape cases that took place during the post-2019 elections protest.
In an interview on Wednesday, ICC director Christopher Tukula said the investigation is set to start in the first week of October and follows complaints from a number of stakeholders.
The director said although the Msundwe rape cases came after ICC’s annual budget had been approved, they will re-align it to accommodate the probe and that four investigators will be recruited to handle the assignment.
He said: “We have received complaints on the matter and we have also noticed huge public interest; hence, we have decided to do our investigation.
“Since the complaints have come in the course of a financial year, we cannot wait but to find a way to accommodate this investigation.”
The ICC probe will be the third on the matter after both the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) and Malawi Police Service (MPS) conducted separate investigations, which produced conflicting findings.
The MHRC report faulted the some police officers for allegedly raping some women and girls but the police’s findings somehow question MHRC’s report and consider the rape allegations as “cooked up”.
After the MHRC report, which recommended the rape victims’ compensation, the Women Lawyers Association, on behalf of the victims, sought legal redress on the matter at the High Court.
The court ruled in favour of the victims and ordered for compensations and a speedy establishment of the ICC to check misconduct.
Meanwhile, Centre for Human Rights Research Advice and Assistance executive director Victor Mhango has described the ICC intention is welcome.
In an interview on Wednesday, he, however, doubted ICC’s capacity to undertake what he called “a complicated investigation.”
“They need more funding to have adequate human resources and equipment. We are happy though that the government has shown interest in establishing this office,” said Mhango.
According to Tukula, who assumed office in January, so far, the commission has received 99 complaints against the police and the majority of them are to do with corruption, brutality, deaths and injuries while in police custody.
Out of the 99 cases, he said, they have prioritised 14 cases related to deaths and injuries in police custody or at the hands of police.
The ICC director admitted the lack of capacity, saying they only have two investigators to handle all complaints.
The violence at Msundwe, Mpingu and Mbwatalika trading centres on the outskirts of Lilongwe City followed protests that ensued post-May 21 2019 presidential election.
Police allegedly went on the rampage in the areas following the stoning to death of their colleague Suwedi Iman by residents during protests.