Angry protesters yesterday destroyed and looted goods worth millions of kwacha belonging to businesspersons in the capital city.
The mayhem also forced shop owners to close their businesses until late in the afternoon especially in Old Town.
The street protests which were led by politician-cum-comedian Bon Kalindo were against the rising cost of living and meant to force the Tonse Alliance administration to bail out poor Malawians from economic misery.
Some of the properties affected included Angoni Liquor Shop and Total Service Station near Lilongwe Hotel. As the angry protesters marched through Old Town, they also pelted stones at some offices such as those of the Malawi Human Rights Commission.
In an interview outside his shop, Mylord Jere owner of the looted liquor shop explained that the protesters raided the shop as they were running away from police along Chilambula road.
Said Jere: “The group forced the door open by breaking chains and locks, broke glasses and went away with different types of whiskies and wines. One of my sons sustained a cut on the head in the fracas and he has been taken to the hospital.”
Jere said it was hard to estimate the value of the damage and how much had been looted from the shop only saying it was in millions of kwacha.
Earlier police fired teargas at hundreds of the protesters just minutes after the group had left Lilongwe Community Centre ground heading toward Nchesi Township.
Running battles ensued between the law enforcers and the protesters as each side kept regrouping and coming back to outdo each other.
Police officers in patrol vehicles and other armoured vehicles were seen forming a cordon in some strategic places like Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Roundabout and near the roundabout along Chilambula Road.
But Kalindo who at one point sought refuge in a moving pick-up vehicle which also carried a public address system, in between the clashes kept joining the marchers on foot and also could be heard urging the crowd not to give up.
Chilambula Road had to be closed temporarily as the marchers and the police clashed forcing motorists to find other routes to their destinations.
National police spokesperson James Kadadzera was not immediately available for comment as to why police fired teargas.
When the group finally reached the district commissioner’s (DC) offices in Area 3, a highly charged Kalindo rebuked the police for tear gassing the protesters including the DCs premises.
Said Kalindo: “What is disturbing and worrisome is that the police have even thrown teargas canisters right here at the DC’s office. This just goes to show that some of our police officers are not well trained.”
In his petition which was received by DC Lawford Lapani, Kalindo gave the Tonse Alliance administration 14 days to start addressing the concerns of Malawians or face more protests.
Kalindo urged government to create a conducive business environment to bring down prices of commodities such as cooking oil, reduce tariffs on water, electricity and tollgate fees, end nepotism and tribalism as well as start fulfilling campaign promises such as creation of one million jobs, among others.