Twenty-six people who sued organisers of protests to force Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson to resign have dragged the Attorney General (AG) into the matter, in which they are seeking compensation for damaged property.
The claimants are demanding over K500 million from Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo and his deputy Gift Trapence, among other human rights activists.
Lawyer Chancy Gondwe, representing the claimants, confirmed in an interview that his clients added the AG to the case as a defendant.
“We recently sent a notice to the AG, notifying his office that we have made it a party to the proceedings.
“We do not have a date yet as to when the case will start in court, this is so because the judge handling our case, Justice Healey Potani, was among the judges handling the elections petition case, and he should have time to attend to this case now. We should be getting the date soon,” Gondwe said.
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson Pililani Masanjala said in an interview that they would treat the notice like any other, explaining that the law provides the AG to respond to such notices within 90 days.
Meanwhile, the defendants have filed their defence, denying responsibility for the damaged property in some parts of the country.
They are arguing that the loss, damage and whatever allegedly suffered by the claimants were a result of failure by Malawi Police Service (MPS) to conduct manner; hence, the same cannot be attributed to HRDC Limited.themselves in a professional
The defendants argue that it was MPS’ responsibility to provide adequate security to ensure that violence and looting by opportunists, people who usually take advantage of demonstrations, should not occur.
The 26 claimants, led by Joe Thomas Nyirongo, are claiming K545 802 450 after their properties were looted or damaged during demonstrations to force MEC chairperson Jane Ansah to resign.
The demonstrations were staged on June 20 2019 and July 4 and 5 2019.
The claimants, as per court records, state that as a result of HRDC’s failure to ensure that the demonstrations were peaceful, they had their property and business merchandise damaged or looted by demonstrators.
According to court records, other defendants are Billy Mayaya, Masauko Thawe, Madalitso Banda, Thoko Mapemba and Beatrice Moyo, and HRDC appears as the eighth defendant.