Running battles between Admarc officials and community members at Nkhwazi Trading Centre in Mchinji on Saturday have left a 30-year-old woman with a bullet wound on her arm.
The woman, identified as Maureen Kandodo, is said to have been shot during the commotion on Saturday afternoon, officials at Mchinji Police Station and Mchinji District Hospital said yesterday.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Mchinji district health officer Juliana Kanyengambeta said: “I can confirm that we received a 30-year old female brought in by well-wishers, with a report that she was shot with a gun by an Admarc security guard in an attempt to control the fracas that erupted when the community tried to block a truck that was up to ferry the maize.”
She said that an examination established that the patient had multiple penetrating wounds, ranging from the lower left breast to the right arm.
The victim has since been referred to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe for further treatment, according to Kanyengambeta.
With looming hunger and about 1.8 million people being food insecure and political tension, commotion over movement of maize from one area to another has stirred tension as people speculate it is being transferred to some districts hard-hit by maize shortage, especially in the Southern Region.
In December 2019, people in Chitipa protested against a similar movement of maize as did some communities at Mpingu in Lilongwe.
In an interview yesterday, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) acting chief executive officer Felix Jumbe described the Nkhwazi incident as one that could have been prevented.
He has since appealed to communities to take politics out of critical national issues, including purchases and distribution of maize.
Jumbe said the Mchinji fracas has cost the State produce trader 89 maize bags weighing 50 kilogrammes each. He said Admarc auditors were on the ground to conclude assessement of damage.
He said: “People are just being political, it is not helping us. Nkhwazi was a buying point. It’s where we stock our maize when we buy.
“We have over 200 metric tonnes at the site and we distribute the maize around the Central Region. We were loading 15 tonnes of maize in a truck when one of the [ward] councillors in the area [allegedly] went about telling people that we were taking the maize to Thyolo… This is when hell broke loose.”
Jumbe said one of Admarc’s security guards, who are armed with guns, fired in the air to scare and disperse the people when the bullet hit the woman on the arm.
He said Admarc has today arranged a stakeholders’ meeting with the community to build a working relationship. He said the meeting will also discuss the way forward and explain why the maize was stocked at Nkhwazi.
Mchinji Police Station officer- in-charge Owen Maganga said they rushed to the scene after being called and they helped to ease the tension.
“I can confirm the woman was shot. It should be noted that she was shot by an Admarc guard who was trying to disperse people and the lady is said to have wanted to grab the gun from the guard and accidentally pulled the trigger, but we will come up with a conclusive report tomorrow [Monday], as my team is still on the ground investigating,” he said. But an eye-witness told The Nation that the shooting was not an accident and disputed the police’s version that the woman wanted to grab the gun from the security guard.