Police in Lilongwe are keeping in custody 10 people suspected of inciting violence that led to the looting of shops and the stoning of a police unit located in Area 24 in the city.
According Kawale Police Unit spokesperson Mabvuto Phiri, hell broke loose on Thursday when Area 24 residents bayed for the blood of some murder suspects believed to have been terrorising the area and were allegedly masterminding gruesome killings.
He said it all started when police conducted a joint operation in the area on the same day which saw some people arrested for being found in possession of pangolins.
Phiri said the arrests made some residents to link the suspects to the murder case of Nelson Phiri, a kabaza operator, who was gruesomely killed last week.
Until his death, Nelson Phiri was plying his trade at Area 24 and was also chairperson of the kabaza operators in the area.
His body was found at a graveyard in Lilongwe’s Area 22 while his motor bicycle was stolen by the unknown assailants.
Phiri confirmed in an interview that the rumour about the arrest of pangolin traffickers was spread and misconstrued by other operators who later thronged Kawale Police Unit and demanded the immediate release of the said suspects so that they take the law in their own hands.
He said when the situation got out of hand, police resorted to firing tear gas to quell the tension and disperse the irate mob.
“As they dispersed, they stated looting shops in the vicinity and pelting vehicles and the unit with stones in a quest to have those suspects released to face mob justice,” Phiri said.
Meanwhile, the police publicist said following the incident, police have arrested 10 people who have been remanded at Kawale Police Station for allegedly instigating riots and looting shops.