For University of Malawi’s The Polytechnic student, the late Blessings Nyondo, December 31 2020 started off as any normal day, but little did he know the misfortunes that lay ahead of him.
In the evening of that day, the non-residential student left his rented house in Chitawira Township to attend a crossover prayer service at Fountain of Victory Church in Manje, Limbe.
As he passed through Robins Park Hall close to Kwacha Roundabout at around 18.45pm, coincidentally, a woman named Lusubilo Mtawali was attacked by robbers nearby.
But while some well-wishers that came to Mtawali’s rescue tried to apprehend the robbers, they saw Nyondo and thought he was among the group of the woman’s attackers.
His efforts to flee the scene by jumping into a moving Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) vehicle led to a commotion with two security officers that were in the vehicle, identified as Nambazo and Chanunkha, alleging that Nyondo tried to snatch their gun.
At the time, Chanunkha, a security officer at the taxpayer-funded institution, was armed with a K2C rifle and a boito pump gun.
Both he and Nambazo jumped out of the car while people that tried to help Mtawali bayed for Nyondo’s blood.
As soon as the duo got out of the car, Nyondo also stepped out and started to run. Chanunkha pursued the student and shot him in the back despite the victim’s plea to be taken to the police station for questioning to prove his innocence.
Mtawali did not identify Nyondo as having been among her attackers.
The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has since found both Chanunkha and Nambazo at fault for not acting responsibly by arresting the victim when he was in the vehicle.
In its report on the investigations released in Blantyre on Monday, MHRC commissioner Baldwin Chiyamwaka said an audio Nyondo recorded, which they accessed, showed that the victim witnessed the robbery while escaping from the scene.
Reading the report, he said the two officers accused Nyondo of being one of the thieves and threatened to shoot him and ordered him to exit their vehicle.
Said Chiyamwaka: “He begged them not to shoot him, but rather take him to a police station if they thought he was a thief. The officers pointed their guns at him, forced him out of the vehicle and later shot him as he tried to escape.”
Through the gunshot wounds, the late Nyondo lost a lot of blood and was taken to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital where he was admitted in Ward 5A. He died on January 8 2021.
The MHRC report states that The Polytechnic management refused to contribute to funeral expenses, saying the student died while on holiday, but that MBC met some of the expenses, including purchase of a coffin, embalming services, food and transport from Blantyre to Chitipa.
On the contrary, Malawi Police Service refused to foot the expenses on the basis that they were not responsible for the death. They only hired a Mr Senzani to carry out a postmortem.
But in its findings, the MHRC investigations established that Chanunkha violated Nyondo’s right to life and that at the time, he was not in his line of duty; hence, should have left the situation in the hands of the police officer.
Therefore, the report has recommended that Malawi Police Service Inspector General George Kainja institute criminal proceedings into Nyondo’s death and against Chanunkha and that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) must follow up and take appropriate action based on the investigations.
The report has also recommended that MBC management must institute a disciplinary process against Chanunkha, police to institute disciplinary processes against Nambazo for unprofessionalism and that the late Nyondo’s family must consider making an application against the State to seek compensation. among others.