The discharge of a defilement case involving a Pakistan national in Blantyre has raised eyebrows compelling human rights’ advocates to write Inspector General (IG) of Police and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to act.
The 57-year-old suspect, Muhammad Hanif, is alleged to have defiled a 14-year-old school girl in Mudi Residential Area in Limbe on March 15 this year after he acted as a Good Samaritan by offering her a lift as she walked on her way home.
According to a case file Weekend Nation has seen, the Pakistan national was arrested on March 16 by Limbe Police after the girl reported the incident before seeking medical examination at One Stop Centre (Queen Elizabeth Hospital). The medical report confirmed the girl’s defilement.
However, the suspect was released and the matter was picked up by Limbe Police Station where a prosecutor handling the matter, sub inspector Ishmael Abubast, registered it before Limbe Magistrate Court as case number 204 of 2020.
According to the documents, Abubast changed the offence at the court and instead charged the accused with rape as opposed to defilement. The prosecutor then requested presiding magistrate Martin Chipofya to withdraw the case.
A charge sheet shows Hanif was charged with an offence of rape contrary Section 133 of the Penal Code to which he pleaded not guilty.
Puzzled with the discharge Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Advocacy (Chreaa) took up the issue and wrote the Inspector General of Police to re-arrest the accused and also ACB to investigate corrupt elements by police officers handling the matter.
In its letter to ACB dated March 23 2020, Chreaa claims its investigations have revealed that money exchanged hands in order to fraudulently facilitate the liberation of the Pakistan national.
Chreaa alleges that when the matter appeared before court for hearing, the prosecutor did not take the actual victim to court but instead he “falsely” presented a 25-year-old business woman—accompanied by two ladies—identified as Mary Phiri, as the casualty.
“This was done to satisfy the court that the victim was indeed an adult with an aim of consequently securing a discharge for the case which he succeeded,” reads part of the letter.
After successfully securing the discharge, reads the letter to to have later told the real victim they received K100 000 to share in order to discharge the case.ACB, the two ladies are alleged
Reads the letter: “In view of the above, we have no doubt that the actions of the police officers amount to corruption and miscarriage of justice and we, therefore, ask your office to take up the matter and investigate for corruption.”
In a separate letter to the Police IG also dated March 23, Chreaa, has asked the police chief to institute investigations on his officers and discipline them because their actions amount to corruption and abuse of office.
The organisation has also asked the IG to immediately arrest the Pakistan national and reinstate charges for prosecution.
The girl told Weekend Nation in an interview on Thursday, she was waiting for transport at Peletia in Limbe to her home when the accused offered her a lift around 5:30pm.
She said: “Instead of taking my direction, I was shocked to see that he diverted until we reached what I believed was his house. I started trembling but I could not shout because he masked my mouth.
“He opened the gate and forcefully pulled down my trouser and forced himself on me. In the process, he dropped his mobile phone which I took to police and the police used the same phone to trace and arrest him,” she narrated.
Her mother (name withheld) said the family would want to see justice taking its course by ensuring that the suspect is rearrested and the “corrupt police officers” are also reprimanded.
In an interview yesterday, national police spokesperson James Kadadzera said the incident was being investigated accordingly to establish what exactly transpired.
“The matter has reached our office and it is being investigated with utmost attention because, as police, we need to work with integrity and professionalism,” he said.