The police are yet to comply with a court order in the Msundwe sexual assault case to submit an occurrence book, a record of events at a police station, within 14 days from August 13 2020.
Women Lawyers Association (WLA), a grouping that represented the Msundwe women, has since indicated that it will take Malawi Police to court for contempt.
WLA spokesperson Mphatso Iphani said: “WLA is aware and concerned with the status quo and is keenly exploring options to ensure compliance.
“Moving the court by filing an application of contempt would be the option in the circumstance, but also engaging the IG [Inspector General] to honour the court judgement [is another option].”
Besides ordering compensation for the 17 women sexually harassed, High Court of Malawi Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda also ordered the Inspector General (IG) of Police to furnish the court with the occurrence book within 14 days. He also ordered that the 17 implicated officers be investigated and arrested within 30 days.
In an interview yesterday, High Court of Malawi and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal registrar Gladys Gondwe confirmed the police were yet to provide the court with the occurrence book.
She said: “With respect to furnishing the occurrence book, what is obtaining the ground is that such has not been done. With respect to the court being appraised on the progress of the investigations, I will have to check with the respective court itself before giving a definitive answer.
“The clear thing is that the court had given an indication and the concerned party is supposed to comply.”
Senior State advocate Neverson Chizisa, who represented the respondents that included the IG, said Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala was better placed to comment on the matter.
Masanjala said some of the things ordered by the court, including establishment of the Independent Complaints Commission, were done. He said other issues such as submission of the occurrence book could be handled by the police.
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said he was still consulting his seniors on the matter.
Earlier this year, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, then estranged second-in-command to president Peter Mutharika, reported the Msundwe issue and other alleged human rights violations to the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the then acting IG Duncan Mwapasa of failing to deal with the matter.
However, WLA had already filed the matter in court in January 2020 for judicial review.
In December 2019, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) issued a report, in which it said it has established that police officers raped 13 women, defiled one girl and sexually assaulted three under-18 girls during their October 8 2019 operation around the area.
MHRC recommended that Mwapasa institute criminal investigations into the matter, targeting police officers deployed at Mpingu, Msundwe and M’bwatalika on the fateful day.