A 38-year-old Mzuzu driver rues going to town last Wednesday afternoon where he was shot with a gun that was allegedly mishandled by one of the 1 500 police officers passed out recently.
This could be seen as the negative side of an order Inspector General (IG) of Police Lexten Kachama apparently issued that police patrol teams should have a minimum of two guns at a time.
Meanwhile, the man—James Phiri, who was neither armed nor running away from the police officers at the time—is intending to sue government for multiple damages as a result of the shooting which has rendered him unable to earn a living.
“All was well when I left my home in Chibanja for the city centre. I had just pulled out a phone to call a friend when a gunshot thundered in my ears. In a second or less, my hand was paralysed, the phone fell to the ground and there was blood all over my right side,” he recalls.
Phiri said he recalls seeing a crowd from Mzuzu Main Market capturing two police officers who were running away from the scene of the incident having neglected him, but the key suspect escaped by jumping onto a speeding minibus.
He added that he was diagnosed with bone cracks and a fracture on the lower part of the wounded arm at Mzuzu Central Hospital (MCH). He also said he tendered his statement to Mzuzu Police Station.
“I was summoned to appear before the professional standards unit after tendering my statement, and they assured that they would keep me updated,” said Phiri.
The police officer, who onlookers say pulled the trigger while passing the firearm to his friend, has not been named.
Northern Region Police spokesperson Maurice Chapola described the shooting as accidental, saying police are still investigating circumstances surrounding the matter and the officers involved.
But Phiri said it is painful that the police abandoned him after the shooting leaving him incapable of fending for his household.
He said: “I don’t know the officer who shot me, but I would like to know why he or she did this to me. It is painful. My life has come to a standstill and I am being reduced to a beggar. I cannot source fees for my Form Three son at Mitundu Secondary School in Lilongwe.”
Meanwhile, Phiri’s lawyers have filed a notice of intention to sue government for the mishap.
Lawyer Tadala Tembo said they will sue for damages for personal injury, loss of earnings and medical costs at the expiry of 90 days from the time they filed the notice of intention to sue to Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale.