Sunday, June 21 2020 will remain unforgettable to a Kasungu family which reunited with its son who spent 11 years at Chirwa Reformatory Centre in Zomba after the High Court acquitted him of murder.
It was a day of celebration for 28-year-old Mavuto Makala’s family of Group Village Head Ntcherechere in Traditional Authority Mwase, Kasungu, as it welcomed him back home, courtesy of Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco).
Speaking when he reunited Makala with his parents in Kasungu last Sunday, Yoneco executive director MacBain Mkandawire said it was sad that some people in government slept on the job, thereby letting the innocent child then—now an adult—suffer.
“This is a very shocking story we don’t want to hear as a nation. Makala was arrested when he was only 12. He was arrested from his parents’ home. How come the same police were telling us that they could not trace his parents? This must be a joke of the century,” said Mkandawire.
He advised public officers to take their work as a service and not a source of income, citing an example of apparent lack of interest police showed on the matter, which led to Makala illegally spending 11 years at the reformatory centre.
Upon the re-union, Mavuto’s mother Marita Banda was over the moon with joy at seeing her son back home alive.
She said the family had already concluded that by the nature of their son’s alleged crime, he would die in prison.
“I am still in denial that this is my child I am seeing here. He left when he was only 12, a child, but look now he is 28, a man. It’s only God who can handle my happiness and shock at the same time,” she said.
Banda said she had forgiven all those who had a hand in her son’s continued illegal detention at the reformatory centre, saying what matters most to her is that her son is back alive and “the rest is in God’s hands”.
After he welcomed Makala back home, GVH Ntcherechere appealed to police in the country to deal with suspects or convicts as human beings.
And the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) acting executive director Michael Kayiyatsa said his organisation would push for Makala’s compensation for the illegal detention.
“This is a big violation of human rights and it can’t just end like that,” he said.
Makala, who has speech and hearing difficulties, was born in 1992, in a family of four children, including his three sisters.
He was arrested in 2005, when he was only 12 years old. The arrest followed the death of his colleague who drowned after he pushed him into a river as they played.
Makala was taken to Mpemba Boys’ Home in Blantyre as a child offender before a High Court sitting in Kasungu cleared him in 2009.
But since then, Makala has been at the reformatory centre as police in Kasungu, where he was alleged to have committed the crime, claimed they could not locate his parents who were reported to have relocated to another area in the district.
His release followed an initiative by the Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco), which discovered him at the reformatory centre and later informed the Ombudsman who initiated his release through the Legal Aid Bureau.