Superintendent Usman Imedi’s name maybe fading from the country’s discourse, but to his family, his cruel death during political violence remains a daily reminder amid financial and mental distress.
Nation on Sunday has established that the family is struggling to access compensation while a court case into his murder has stalled despite that the suspects were identified and arrested.
Next month will mark two years since Imedi was stoned in Msundwe Township on the outskirts of Lilongwe City, as he led a team of police officers that were deployed to restore order after protesters blocked the Mchinji-Lilongwe Road to stop people from travelling to Kawale where the then president Peter Mutharika was to hold a rally.
The violence came as the country was locked in tension following the disputed May 2019 presidential election in which Mutharika emerged the winner. Frequent nationwide protests led by the opposition parties and human rights activists followed before the courts annulled the election.
Last Saturday, we travelled to Mauni Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Makanjira in Mangochi to interview the late Imedi’s parents.
We found Imedi’s mother Patuma Asiki sitting on a worn out mat near a fire on the fringes of her residence.
She said she was feeling unwell, but she still gathered courage for an interview.
Said Asiki: “For us, Usman was not just a police officer. He was our bread winner.”
With a downcast face and fighting back tears, she added: “His death left us with many unanswered questions.”
Asiki described her departed son as a caring person who always provided for the family.
She lamented: “As you can see, we are old. If we were able to eat decent food it was because of his support. If we were to have better crop yields, it was because he provided us with fertiliser.
“Now the farming season is here and we don’t know where we will get the fertiliser.”
Imedi’s father Muhamad chipped in, pointing to a nearby house: “We live in that house, but it’s not ours. The owner is in South Africa, and once he returns, we will be homeless. Our son was planning to build us a house but all that is lost.”
In a separate interview, Imedi’s wife Rebecca, who still lives in a police house in Area 3 in Lilongwe, said she has not been at peace since he died.
“His death left a huge gap. It is more painful because we have a child who suffers from epilepsy. He doesn’t know that his father died. Each time he sees a police vehicle, he expects to see his father.
“Sometimes he doesn’t eat because he wants to see his father. It reminds all of us how great a loss his death was to us,” she said.
Asked if the family has received compensation, Rebecca said they received a K13 million cheque a few weekss ago, through the Administrator General’s office in Lilongwe, but after depositing it, they were told that the compensation’s account did not have money.
“We travelled to Mangochi with my husband’s parents to get clearance from the District Commissioner’s office before cashing the money. But once we got to the bank, we were told there’s no money.
“So, we are still waiting for feedback,” said the mother of three, adding that one of the children has not been enrolled in college due to financial challenges.
After Imedi’s death, the police raided Msundwe and arrested 44 people, of whom 40 were charged with endangering safety of people on the road while four were charged with murder. The four are Frank Mastone, 28, Kondwani Chisindo, 23, Godfrey Banda, 30, and Licktone Mtiche, 30, according to police records.
For the past two years, the cases have not been brought to court for trial much to the surprise of Imedi’s father who has since called for justice to take its course.
“What we want is to see justice served. We want his killers to face the punishment they deserve,” he said.
In a written response, Malawi Human Rights Commission spokesperson Kate Kujaliwa said they recently followed up with the police regarding some of the outstanding recommendations in the report and they were assured that the issues are being attended to.
Asked about progress on his murder case and compensation, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said briefly: “The murder case of Superintendent Usman Imedi is under investigation. This is all I can say at the moment.”