The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has dismissed an application by the family of Buleya Lule, a suspect who died in police custody, to prosecute seven police officers implicated in his murder.
In a letter dated May 30 2019, the family through lawyer Jivason Kadzipatike seek the DPP’s consent to prosecute the matter after noting that since Lule’s death in February 2019, the State has not pursued justice in the matter.
The family also cited failure by Malawi Police Service (MPS) to arrest and dismiss from service the seven suspects—Superintendent Paul Chipole, Sub-inspector Ikram Malata, Central Region Police Headquarters Acting Commissioner Evalista Chisale, Inspector Ronnex Kapesa and Inspector Mervin Gama, as another reason for the application.
The family had given police up to May 22 to act on the matter.
In her response dated June 28 2019, DPP Mary Kachale states that justice will be served best when the matter is handled by the office of the DPP which almost always prosecutes homicide cases.
She said: “For this reason, please assure your client that justice will be pursued by this office on the matter of the death of Mr. Buleya Lule in accordance with the law by our directorate.
“With full recognisance of the independence conferred on the Inspector General of Police by the Constitution, I will engage the MPS regarding the current status of the investigation. Consequently, your request has not been granted.”
Reacting to the response, Kadzipatike said they will consult their client to map the way forward.
He said: “With this response from the DPP, one would be entitled to doubt whether any action will ever be taken on this matter. However, since we have just received the response from the DPP now, we must consult our clients and map the way forward.”
Lule was one of the suspects in the abduction of Goodson Makanjira, a 14-year-old boy with albinism from Dedza. Lule allegedly offered to buy the boy, who is still missing, for K800 000. The suspect died at the hands of police after he appeared in court once, where he denied the charge.
A forensic autopsy report issued by independent pathologist Charles Dzamalala showed that Buleya Lule died from electrocution.
This was in contrast to an earlier autopsy commissioned by MPS which claimed Lule had died of natural causes.
Following an investigation into the incident, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) in its report recommended that Police IG Rodney Jose should urgently institute criminal investigations of all police officers who handled the deceased from February 18 to 20 2019 for justice sake. The Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) also demanded immediate action from Jose.