A 15-year-old Providence Girls Secondary School student is in critical condition at Mercy James Paediatric Clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre following alleged police brutality.
Judith Yona, who is in Form Two, was among students allegedly beaten up by police called to quell a demonstration by the students on October 23 this year, over poor diet.
According to Yona’s mother, Gladys M’baka, one police officer kicked her daughter in the stomach when the law enforcers were forcing students out of their hostels.
She said, days later, Judith started feeling abdominal pains and she was taken to Mulanje District Hospital by the school.
“I received a call from the school that my daughter was in hospital. When I rushed there, I found her in this critical condition. She said she was beaten by police when they invaded the school to contain the protest,” said M’baka.
She said she was surprised that when she went to the school on November 9, to pay her daughter’s school fees balance, she was not told anything about her daughter’s sickness.
M’baka said she took her daughter to QECH on November 19 where an examination showed that she had internal injuries.
Mulanje Police Station spokesperson Gresham Ngwira refused to comment on the matter. He referred Nation on Sunday to Southern Region Police, but efforts to speak to Southern Region Police spokesperson Ramsey Mushani proved futile as he was reportedly attending a funeral in Ntcheu.
In an interview, Blantyre Archdiocese education secretary, Symon Nakoma, said his office is aware of students’ protests at Providence, and that police were called to control students from damaging school property.
But Nakoma, who said his office received the news about Yona’s illness last weekend, declined to comment on whether the student was beaten by police.
“I am not in a position to confirm that she was beaten by police or not because I haven’t seen the medical report. Maybe it was fellow students in the stampede who stepped on her abdomen,” said Nakoma.
When we called the school, they referred us to the Shire Highlands education division manager, who refused to comment on the matter, saying the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology was better placed to do so.
The ministry’s spokesperson Lindiwe Chide confirmed that there were indeed protests at Providence Secondary School and that some students “claimed to have been injured on the night of the fracas”.
“However, Judith was not among those who were taken to hospital [on that night]. She continued to attend classes at the school until she suddenly fell sick and was sent for medical attention,” she said.
The Ministry is still waiting for a hospital medical report and is working with Mulanje Police to get to the bottom of the matter.