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2019 Demo Victims Seeking Legal Aid

2019 Demo Victims Seeking Legal Aid

It is Over a year since Malawi experienced mass demonstrations that the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) staged in the country.

The demonstrations led to the demolition and looting of a number of shops.

The protesters demanded the resignation of the former Chairperson for Malawi Electoral Commission-MEC Jane Ansah over a flawed 2019 tripartite election. The CSOs accused Jane Ansah and the entire MEC commission of
election mismanagement.

The demonstrations were led by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, (HRDC) led by the then chairperson,
Timothy Mtambo,

Section 38 of the constitution provides that every person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed.

However, all the demonstrations were ending up in clashes between people and the police and in some instances
between the military and the police.

The police lost constable Imedi in a mob justice at Nsundwe in Lilongwe while other officers ended up being injured.
Some demonstrators took advantage of robbing people and others used to break and steal from the shops.

Although Mtambo condemned the acts of violence during the demos, people went on rampage and caused fear to
the communities that were around areas of demonstrations.

Among the victims of the violent acts during the demonstrations were some women who were allegedly raped by the
police officers at Nsundwe in Lilongwe.

The court assistant registrar Madalitso Chimwaza awarded the women monitory compensation ranging from 4
Million to 10 million each.

The Women Lawyers Association president Immaculate Maluza led the 18 women to court to demand justice.

But up to now some of the victims who lost their properties during the demos are yet to have justice.

Samuel Mkwate from Blantyre said his shop in Lilongwe was demolished on that fateful day.

‘My shop at Biwi area 36 was vandalized and cash amounting to Mk220,440 obtained from the sales was stolen,”.
Mkwate further said Almost 27-million-kwacha stock valued goods from his shop were taken and the matter was
reported to Kawale Police but yielded nothing.

Mkwate expressed worry saying most of the stocks were purchased based on loan from suppliers and other money
borrowing branches.

“As of now those who supplied their goods to me on loan and the money rending institutions from where I borrowed
money are on my neck, they want their money back and I have nothing to pay back,” said Mkwate.

The question is, what should other victims who are suffering now from the vandalism and violence of the demonstrations do to obtain justice.

One of the legal experts in the country Osman Kennedy said those that fell victims during the demonstration have
the right to seek legal assistance.

“The country’s constitution allows to hold peaceful demonstrations on whatever they feel like they should demonstrate, but the constitution has given demonstrators limits as not to infringe other people’s daily activities
and not to breach the rights of others,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy added that HRDC and the Malawi Police Service are liable to be sued for not handling the demonstrations well in terms of security and preparations which resulted into the loss of property.

However, people might not get compensations when they sue a wrong party and when the organizers and other stakeholders play a blame game on the violence and rooting that take place during demonstration because of

“This should not make the victims feel like they cannot get legal assistance, what they need to do is to go for the
party that is concerned and involved in the management of the demos. They can ask for legal aid even without being
represented by any legal expert. when their right has been infringed because of demonstrations,” said Kennedy.

During the demonstrations private and public property was lost, police units and other buildings were set ablaze

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