Thugs suspected to be illegal vendors Friday night torched Mzuzu City Council (MCC) offices and vandalised the mayor’s home to allegedly avenge demolition of their illegal structures in the city.
MCC embarked on the demolition exercise for illegal structures at Matabwa Market on Friday night, but the city rangers were later attacked by people believed to be illegal developers.
They assaulted the city officials and broke a hand of one of them.Hours later, the MCC department of planning and development offices at Mzuzu Stadium were up in flames, followed by vandalism at the mayor’s home.
MCC spokesperson Karen Msiska yesterday could not rush to link the demolition of the illegal structures to the torching of the MCC offices and the attack on the mayor’s home.
However, Msiska said the attack on the council and mayor’s home happened after the city’s officials were attacked in the course of demolishing illegal structures.
According to Msiska, the thugs also attacked National Registration Bureau (NRB) officers working at Mzuzu Stadium Hall.
“We have guards at the stadium, but it was not possible for them to fight the group. I understand they were many, and they were so violent. They also attacked NRB officials,” said Msiska
According to Msiska, apart from damaging buildings and furniture, the fracas has also led to the council losing all documents to do with planning and developments in the city.
Msiska said the council is yet to assess the value of damage.
Mzuzu City mayor William Mkandawire’s father, Fundani Mkandawire, whose house was vandalised, said the family is in shock following the attack.
He said the thugs attacked the house at around 1am and it was after sometime that some neighbours came out and the thugs started fleeing in all directions after setting alight the grass fence, which the neighbours saved by putting out the fire.
“We have lived here since 2003 and this is the first time such a thing has happened to us. I don’t understand why we should be attacked. I don’t work for the city. I am a teacher. If it were students attacking us, I would understand, but why should I be concerned with vending issues?” asked Mkandawire.
Later yesterday, police sent two armed officers to guard Mkandawire’s house.
Mzuzu City vendors’ secretary Franklin Hara expressed sadness over the fracas. He advised that when people have issues, it is better to engage in dialogue rather than turning violent.
Northern Region Police deputy spokesperson Maurice Chapola said police suspect that the group that attacked the officials in the demolition exercise are the ones that later damaged the city offices and the mayor’s home.
He said no one has been arrested yet over the matter but investigations were underway.
Chapola also said police that rushed to the stadium managed to save NRB equipment. He said the NRB centre has since been relocated to Mzuzu Police junior officers’ mess.
As we went to press, business in the city had returned to normal, unlike in the morning when police used teargas to contain running battles with suspected vendors. n