On the loose: MDF murder suspects

On the loose: MDF murder suspects

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is facing hurdles to prosecute Malawi Defence Force (MDF) officers suspected of assault and causing the death of Daniel Sakala at Luwelezi (Gada) MDF Farm last August in Mchinji District.

Meanwhile, human rights groups have expressed concern over police delays to arrest the suspects.

Facing challenges: Chamkakala

According to police documents we have seen, the deceased was arrested by security guards for allegedly stealing maize from the farm. Despite recording statements from the guards and officers involved, no arrests have been made.

Weekend Nation has seen a letter  dated October 9 2023 from DPP Masauko Chamkakala to the MDF Commander, urging MDF to investigate and apprehend the suspects for court proceedings.

However, seven months after the DPP sent the request, MDF  is yet to hand over the suspects.

Reads the letter to the MDF Commander: “The security guards handed him [Sakala] over to Captain Chaononga who is the farm manager. Captain Chaononga handed him over to his subordinates. However, the suspect was assaulted within Army premises and eventually died after receiving treatment at Mchinji Hospital where he was referred to.

“The police have given us the responsibility to prosecute this matter but there are no suspects that have been arrested.”

MDF spokesperson Major Emmanuel Mlelemba did not respond to our questionnaire sent three weeks ago while government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu, who is also Minister of Information and Digitisation, asked for more time to gather details.

When contacted to shed light on the matter, Chamkakala asked for more time to get an update   but other sources confided in us that no suspect has so far been arrested in connection with the death.

Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) director of civil and political rights Peter Chisi told Weekend Nation on Wednesday that the matter raises “significant human rights concerns” and   his organisation would undertake a comprehensive human rights investigation. 

On his part, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Michael Kaiyatsa lamented the delays to arrest the suspects, emphasising that MDF soldiers are not above the law.

Said Kaiyatsa: “Failure by the MDF to hand over the suspects raises suspicion.  It smacks of a cover-up and is unacceptable. We urge the MDF to uphold justice and ensure legal action against those allegedly responsible for this man’s death.”

Weighing in on the issue, Human Rights Defenders Coalition national coordinator Gift Trapence also urged MDF leadership and the office of the DPP to expedite the judicial process, emphasising the need to probe the matter urgently.

“It is crucial for these institutions to address the impediments hindering the progress of justice. Ensuring a swift and thorough investigation is imperative for uncovering the truth and delivering justice in this case,” Trapence said.

Police records show that after being assaulted, the deceased was picked in a tractor to Kazyozyo Health Centre for treatment but due to the seriousness of the assault, he was referred to Mchinji District Hospital.

He was treated and discharged the same day but died the following day at his home, Chikuta Village, T/A Kazyozyo, Mchinji.

The records further show that the deceased suffered a fracture in his right leg, left arm and the neck.   An open post-mortem found that the victim also had a chest injury which resulted in internal bleeding, and that the cause of death was “polytrauma secondary to assault”.

Reads the police document: “A case was opened and the scene of the crime was revisited at Gada MDF Farm whereby the guards, the farm in-charge and other officers who took part in the issue were all recorded ordinary statements. In their explanation they admitted to hav[ing] arrested the victim on their farm and later took him to Kazyozyo Health Centre for treatment after interrogations.”

In an interview, Sakala’s widow Clara Daka, who has a two-year daughter, said life has been tough without her husband.

She said she and her daughter now beg for food and other necessities to survive. But she lamented that it is the uncertainty of her daughter’s future that weighs heavily   on her heart.

Said Daka:“What hurts me most is that no one has been held responsible for the death of my husband. Where is justice or is it because we are poor people? I wish the government could intervene and help us.”

The post On the loose: MDF murder suspects first appeared on Nation Online.

The post On the loose: MDF murder suspects appeared first on Nation Online.