Taxpayers have paid K130 million to 18 women who suffered sexual offences and other acts of brutality allegedly perpetrated by police at Msundwe and surrounding places in 2019.
The incidents at Msundwe, Mpingu and Mbwatalika trading centres on the outskirts of Lilongwe City along the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road followed violence that ensued during the post-May 21 2019 presidential election.
Both Women Lawyers Association (WLA)—who represented the eighteen victims in the case—and Ministry of Justice confirmed yesterday the payment of the compensation sums as ordered by the High Court of Malawi.
Details of the payout as contained in a court ruling for judicial review of Civil Case No.7 of 2020 by Assistant Registrar of the High Court Madalitso Chimwanza show that the women were granted different sums based on the determination of the court. The highest paid victim, a 17-year-old girl, was awarded K10 million while the lowest received K4.5 million.
Confirming the payment in an interview yesterday, Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala said: “I can confirm that government has issued a cheque in fulfilment of the court order and the lawyers for the victims collected it last week.”
And in a statement issued yesterday, WLA president Immaculate Maluza announced the payment.
She hailed the development as a symbolic gesture that confirms that violence against women is “never acceptable, never excusable and never tolerable”.
Maluza said: “WLA would also like to take this opportunity to remind the Malawi Government that women and girls still face barriers in accessing equal opportunity and representation in every sphere of life.
“We, therefore, implore the government to make available sufficient, effective and sustainable resources to reduce and eliminate gender based violence across the country.”
The court is yet to determine the total costs for the court action which taxpayers will again foot.
The court judgement, which came in a civil case, further states that criminal proceedings against those responsible should proceed.
Police allegedly went on the rampage in the areas following the brutal murder of their colleague, Suwedi Iman, who was stoned to death by residents during protests.
their normal capacity.ranks, they were seen carrying
The police Operation Vala Mask comes amid a rise in Covid-19 cases in the country.
However, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) yesterday said while it welcomes the police initiative, it is coming late.
In an interview HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence said the ‘strict’ enforcement of Covid-19 prevention measures should have started long time ago.
He said: “The police need to sustain the enforcement of the regulations, especially in the hot spots where there are gatherings. They must also step up efforts on civic education. We have not done well on this.”
Covid-19 has affected many people, including businesses resulting in company closures and loss of employment. n