Thugs on Thursday evening twice terrorised the office of Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR) in Lilongwe, severely beat up a security guard before attempting, in vain, to petrol-bomb the premises.
Central Region police spokesperson Norriet Chihana yesterday confirmed receiving a report on the incident, but said police detectives were still investigating the matter.
“We have received the complaint through our Lingadzi office. However, investigations are underway to establish concrete details of the issue,” said Chihana.
According to CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo, five people descended on CHRR offices in Area 47, Lilongwe at around 7 pm and found a guard whom they asked for directions to Mtambo’s house.
Upon being told by the guard that he doesn’t know Mtambo’s house, the guard, the five beat up him up and left, only to come again at around 11pm, and threw a petrol bomb which did not explode.
Weekend Nation has been furnished a picture of what was supposed to be the petrol bomb; fuel in a water bottle and two Malawi Gin branded bottles.
CHRR is an outspoken critic of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration and President Peter Mutharika and the development comes amid growing tension ahead of 2019 elections.
“They badly injured the guard but he has received treatment. After the attack, the matter was reported to Police in Area 18 before taking him to the hospital. Definitely, this attack was organised by the ruling party. We suspect they are cadets because they are the ones threatening us all the time,” said Mtambo.
Mtambo, however, vowed that the attack will not dissuade the organisation or him from speaking out against elements of bad governance in the country.
“They cannot rule through terror. We are not afraid. We are not going to be moved or intimidated. We remain strong. What they have to realise is that they must deliver people’s demands. Threatening people will not change our stance. They are now attacking critics. It’s the same old tactics. Malawi is bigger than them. Malawi is our only home; we will not stop fighting for justice and accountability,” he said.
But DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi yesterday dismissed any possibility that the party was responsible for the attacks, saying the allegations were baseless.
“They say they have been receiving messages threatening them, but they did not notify police who could have traced those responsible and now they are claiming it’s DPP. This is very worrisome, how many times have they held demonstrations? They are just using DPP to get more money from their donors. We categorically reject those assertions,” said Dausi.
Government critics have recently been arrested or threatened with arrests, while some civil society activists have received threats from mostly unidentified critics or known government supporters.
Human Rights Activist and executive director for Mzuzu-based Youth and Society (YAS), Charles Kajoloweka, who also recently received death threats, agreed with Mtambo in an interview, saying the attacks are motivated by desire to silence the administration’s critics.