The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) investigation into the death of Buleya Lule, a suspected abductee of a person with albinism, has named police officers to be investigated and prosecuted for a criminal case.
The report, released yesterday, gives an account of how the deceased was taken from one police station to another by different police officers.
MHRC commissioner Martha Chizuma presented the report to the Malawi Police Service, Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam), Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), the Director of Public Prosecutions (in absentia) and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), among other stakeholders.
It confirms findings of an independent autopsy that indicated that Lule was tortured before his death while in police custody.
Among other things, the report states that Lule died when Police Inspector Gama and other unnamed four mobile police officers took him back from the court to Lilongwe Police Station.
But before Gama was assigned to take him to the station, a police officer only identified as Kampira took him to court where he was seen walking with difficulties.
The report acknowledges earlier informal information that he was helped to board the vehicle by fellow accused persons.
It reads in part: “On arrival at the station, the victim was motionless. He was taken out of the vehicle on a stretcher and put at the custody bay. His eyes were closed throughout the time.”
According to the report, that was the time when Detective Sub-Inspector Bosco Matete, Sergeant Tambala and Constable Mathambo took him to KCH where he was certified dead.
Before he was brought to court, Detective Inspector Chavinda and Inspector Chiwambo took the suspect to the Acting Commissioner of Police for Central Region Evelista Chisale and other police officers.
Others who took part in the arrest are Sub-Inspector Ikram Malata, while Detective Superintendent Chipole coordinated the interrogations at Chitsime Police Unit, but he left to attend to other issues, leaving Malata and others to finish interrogations.
The report has since recommended that Police Inspector General Rodney Jose should urgently institute a criminal investigation of all officers named and others who might be mentioned outside the report for justice sake.
Reading the report in the presence of a relative of the late Lule, Chizuma said it is undeniable fact that the victim was tortured in police custody, as such police violated Section 19 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi which guarantees that no person shall be subjected to torture.
The commission believes that the deceased was tortured in the cell so that investigators should extract evidence from him, which also according to the report meant that the police violated his right not to be compelled to make a confession as provided for under Section 42 of the Constitution.
The report also reads: “These police officers who should be investigated include Superintendent Paul Chipole, Sub-Inspector Ikram Malata, Commissioner Evalista Chisale, Inspector Ronnex Kapesa, station criminal investigations officer for Dedza police Mervin Gama and the four mobile police officers (not named)…”
Detective Constable Robert Chisale is also named as one to be investigated as he is suspected to have assaulted, abused and humiliated family members of the victim on February 21 at Lilongwe Police Station.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition chairperson Timothy Mtambo questioned why the commission did not name the other four mobile police officers who took part in escorting the suspect.
He said: “We commend the commission for the report. But we would want to know why other four police officers are not mentioned.”
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera in an interview acknowledged receipt of the report, but he refused to comment on when police officers will start investigating the officers named in the case.
He said: “All I can say is that we have received the report. We will comment later. Ask us about that tomorrow [today].”
The police arrested six persons suspected to have abducted Goodson Makanjira, 14, a boy with albinism, from his home village in Traditional Authority Chilikumwendo in Dedza on February 13.
The six, who were arrested are Kumbirani Patson(51), Sainani Kalekeni (44), Katiyo Mizeck (42), Wisikesi Gana (68), Lukasi Kagomo (36), and Lule (44).
But according to the report, the one believed to be the master minder of the abduction, James Green, has not yet been arrested. n