An angry mob on Wednesday night burned down South Lunzu Magistrate’s court in Blantyre, damaging two police vehicles and injuring two police officers in the process.
A visit to the court today morning, found the court still smoldering and all court property including court files burnt to ashes.
A guard working for the court Henry Beyadi who was on duty on the night of the ordeal said the fracas started after Ndirande and Chileka police officers brought before the court suspects for hearing earlier in the day.
“The mob mistakenly thought that some of the suspects were answering murder charges in relation to an incident that happened in Machinjiri Township few weeks ago,” said Beyadi.
First grade Magistrate Kitty Nkhono is said to have tried to explain to the crowd that had converged outside the court that no murder suspect was brought before the court but it all fell on deaf ears as they regrouped after court session and started damaging the court’s window glasses believing the suspects were being kept inside.
The mob engaged in a running battle with the police but was eventually dispersed.
“It was at around eight o’clock in the evening when I saw the mob rushing to the court after blocking the road with big stones at Luwanda Trading Centre. They broke into the court, started burning tires and dry grass throwing them up the ceiling,” explained Beyadi who lives few kilometers away from the court.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that police have since arrested two people in relation to the matter.
The two, 24 year old Henry Masina from Traditional Authority (T/A) Kanduku in Mwanza and Labson Magombo 28 from T/A Malemia in Zomba will appear before court soon to answer charges of malicious damage.
Southern Region Deputy Police Publicist Beatrice Mikuwa could neither confirm nor deny the report.
Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula has condemned the conduct by the residents and urged them to follow proper procedures of addressing issues.
Mvula said the burning of the court will affect operations of the judicially in a sense that residents who were served by that court will now seek justice from other surrounding courts leading to congestion and delay of trials.
He said innocent people will be denied justice as they will be forced to give up on their cases due to long distances.
The South Lunzu Court has been handling cases from Chileka sub-station, Chirimba Police unit, Ndirande police sub-station, Machinjiri police unit and Blantyre Police Station.