A majority of the attendees stuck to the dress code and showed up in white, a colour the organisers said symbolised peace.
A lot of the women present had on leggings, shorts and trousers and T-shirts with Peace written on the front and Ã¢â‚¬ËœVendor! Lero nkugule, mawa undivule?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ (Vendor, should I buy from you today so you can undress me tomorrow?) written on the back.
The countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Vice-President Joyce Banda, clothed in a white national wear and head gear, caused quite a stir when she arrived a few minutes before the event began, with Thyolo North MP Anita Kalinda who also stuck to the dress-code
Other notable faces at the vigil were Machinga East MP Atupele Muluzi, MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Minister of Gender, Child and Community Development Reene Kachere, her deputy Nasrine Pillane, Christina Chioko-chairperson of womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s caucus in Parliament, Malawi Law Society president John Gift Mwakhwawa and advocate Mordecai Msiska.
Malawi Police Service director of operations, Paul Kanyama, and national spokesperson, Davie Chingwalu, who were both part of the programme and scheduled to speak on the role of the Police in the issue, left shortly after the event began.
Uniformed police officers, who patrolled the premises before the vigil began, where conspicuously absent as it wound up.
When asked for an explanation on the absence of police at a function with the possibility of turning volatile, one of the organisers, Taweni Gondwe Xaba, said Chingwalu and Kanyama left to attend to pressing matters in Lilongwe.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The police did arrive, but unfortunately, they had to leave. They will, however, communicate with us on what they shall do about the matter,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Gondwe Xaba.
Chingwalu, who confirmed that both he and Kanyama left to attend to Ã¢â‚¬Å“pressing duties to do with securityÃ¢â‚¬Â in Lilongwe, said there must have been a communication breakdown with the Southern Region Police Headquarters which, he said, was meant to send through someone to replace them at the vigil. He, however, said he was not aware that police officers took off before the function came to a close.
Said Chingwalu, Ã¢â‚¬Å“There was police presence at the vigil as I arrived and as I left, none of our officers left until the function ended.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We would like to reassure women and girls in Malawi that we will provide sufficient security so that these incidents do not recur. We are working on the matter; we have arrested 34 people so far. Of these 34; two were arrested in Dedza, two in Limbe, one in Mzuzu and the rest in Blantyre.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The hall which sits about 3 000 people, was packed to capacity, forcing a few people to stand. Excitement permeated the air as men and women danced to songs such as Ã¢â‚¬ËœWapalamula chitedzeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœIne toto kubwelera mbuyo.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢