Blantyre-based private practice lawyer Chancy Gondwe, who is representing 25 people who had their property destroyed during the June 20 nationwide demonstrations, has warned Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) leaders of a tough day in court.
The HRDC leaders Timothy Mtambo and Gift Trapence have vowed not to pay for any damage, arguing that they are not responsible as the duty to protect citizens and their property falls on the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
Mtambo has, instead, asked the victims who were injured or had their property damaged to direct their issues to government.
In an interview on Saturday, Gondwe said every argument is someone’s ignorance, adding: “Let them reserve those fine arguments for their day in court.”
He said he would expect them to respond to his letter dated July 19 2019 within the stated 14 days.
But, Mtambo, in an interview on Saturday, insisted that HRDC can never be held responsible for any damage to the property, arguing that if other elements are taking opportunity to steal from people even outside the designated routes of the demonstrations, that remains the duty of the police to protect the citizens and their property.
“These people making claim against us can take whichever path they want, as citizens of this nation, we are very much aware of our rights and we will deal with every unjustifiable claim against us,” Mtambo said.
He challenged that no intimidation would make them lose focus, warning they would keep on organising the anti-Jane Ansah demonstrations until she resigns.
The 25 claimants are jointly claiming K545 802 450 million from HRDC, organisers of the pressing for resignation of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah, who they accuse of presiding over what they describe as fraudulent elections.nationwide demonstrations
The claim follows a recent statement in Parliament by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Bright Msaka, that organisers of the demonstrations would be held liable for any damages.
On his part, Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi, outside Parliament, also issued a similar statement that HRDC would be held liable for the damages.
Gondwe, in the letter, warned HRDC that the amount may change as some of his clients have engaged property valuers and assessors to work on the loss of business.
The 25 people seeking compensation include Joe Thomas Nyirongo (K105 million); Dennis Moyo (K150 million), Grace Sikitiko (K250 million), Kelvin Chirambo (K10.2 million); Bright Kamanga (K3 million); Steve Ndau (K2.1 million); Raphael Ngwira (K 2.3 million); Aaron Mwenelupembe (K745 000); Scotch Frighton Charles Kondowe (K493 100); Christopher Luphale (K380 000), May Chisosa (K80 000) and Bentry B. Jembe (K240 000).