Police have arrested 15 people suspected of engaging in criminal acts on Friday, the day Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) organised demonstrations against the administration of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
In an interview yesterday, Central Region Police spokesperson Kingsley Dandaula said that the suspects were arrested around Nanjiri on the Lilongwe-Blantyre main road and in Lilongwe City after the demonstrations had ended peacefully.
“In the Nanjiri area, those arrested had burnt car tyres in various places on the busy road and had set up illegal roadblocks where they were forcing motorists to pay them ‘passage fees’. Our officers had running battles with these suspects, many of whom ran away, before the route was cleared.
“Those arrested in Lilongwe were causing scenes of confusion around some shops and other vulnerable-looking sites. Here, our officers were alert and foiled the plans of the suspects, who triggered their actions as the protesters were returning home from their designated route which they covered peacefully, with our assistance,” he said.
Dandaula said the suspects will appear in court this week to answer the charge of intentionally endangering the life of a person travelling by rail or by road contrary to Section 237 of the Penal Code.
He also said police are investigating the attack on the house of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioner the Reverend Killion Mgawi at Nkhoma where, among other things, a mob demolished the house’s fence and broke into the house where property was looted and destroyed.
Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) general secretary the Reverend Vasco Kachipapa yesterday condemned the attack on Mgawi, who is a clergy in the church.
HRDC national chairperson Timothy Mtambo is on record as having commended the police for arresting the suspected criminal elements. He said the suspects seemed to take advantage of the peaceful demonstrations, which have aimed at forcing MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, to resign for allegedly having mismanaged the elections