Street vendors in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe on Tuesday became enforcers of dress code when they pounced on women dressed in trousers or miniskirts with up to six being confirmed to have been attacked.
Police moved in quickly to contain the situation, but the vendors were clearly looking for a fight as they gathered near Lilongwe Mosque to block
the entrance to Malangalanga Road with some pelting police officers with stones.
Minister of Gender Reene Kachere has described the attacks as “worse than rape”. She said those attacking women were rapists using the issue of
trousers to satisfy their lust.
One of the women who was attacked as she disembarked from an Area 12 minibus, told The Nation she had walked barely 15 metres from the minibus
depot when she heard people whistling and jeering at her.
“Before I analysed what was happening, a young man selling plastic bags attacked me and pulled my T-shirt. Then the rest [of the vendors] came and
started punching and pulling me in their directions.
“They touched me everywhere. I have never been humiliated and degraded as these animals did today,” said the woman who was crying and had to be
rescued by another minibus crew.
Two attacks happened to two girls who claimed were coming from nearby college near Shoprite and Game shops, one near Tsoka Flea Market and three more on Malangalanga Road, according to witnesses.
Nobody could explain the cause of the attacks.
Shop owners quickly closed their shops as thousands of young people gathered near the mosque and a few of them kept stoning police who did not retaliate throughout the spectacle that eased around 1pm.