The State has resuscitated cases against police officers accused of taking part in the July 20 2011 killings when unarmed demonstrators and civilians were gunned down during a police crackdown of the civil society-led protests.
Last year, Nation on Sunday reported on how several legal cases and criminal investigations emanating from the first Democratic Progressive Party-led government and those linked to former president Bingu wa Mutharika were stalling.
Several police officers were implicated in the murders of over 19 protestors and innocent bystanders by a State-sanctioned commission of inquiry into events and killings on July 20—the bloodiest anti-government demonstration in Malawi’s history.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Apoche Itimu confirmed in an interview on Thursday that over six cases are heading back to court for hearing in Mzuzu, Blantyre and Lilongwe.
“Yes, I can confirm that the cases will be held next week while for some we have just filed documents at court and dates are yet to be allocated,” said Itimu.
She said three cases will be held in the Central Region, one in the North while unspecified number of cases will be held in Blantyre.
“Information that I have so far is that we have filed documents for case involving Sergeant [Ian] Kanyama in Mzuzu and a date is to be granted. In Blantyre, the case of Paul Mussa and others has been registered, but I am yet to be briefed on the date while in Lilongwe three officers will be tried this week,” she said.
According to court documents Nation on Sunday has seen, Constable Steward Lobo, 35, of Kawale Police Station and Constable Isaac Kamwala of Lumbadzi Police Station will face murder charges at the High Court in Lilongwe on May 13 and 20, respectively.
Lobo and Kamwala will be represented by Legal Aid Bureau whose director Masauko Chamkakala confirmed the court hearings in an interview.
“Yes the cases will resume and we are representing two officers, right now due to lawyer/client confidentiality principles we are limited to what we can disclose apart from confirming that both cases are murder and the dates,” said Chamkakala.
According to the charge sheet, Lobo will answer to the charge of murder in relation to the death of an unarmed Lilongwe resident, George Thekere.
Kamwala is accused of murdering Edward Chang’ombe at Lumbadzi Trading Centre while police were dispersing people, who broke into shops, with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition, according to the court documents.
The July 20 demonstrations were organised by civil society groups to protest governance and human rights concerns by the late Mutharika’s government but turned violent amid massive looting of shops and running battles between heavily armed police and civilians.
The civil society has on several occasions raised fears that successive governments have lacked political will to prosecute the cases alongside another controversial murder of final-year Polytechnic student activist Robert Chasowa and subsequently engaged the international community, particularly the UN to pressurise Lilongwe on the matter.