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Chasing justice after police assault. By Lucky Mkandawire

Image taken from The Nation

A 28-year-old woman in Blantyre has turned to civil society organisations (CSOs) in pursuit of justice following Malawi Police Service (MPS) alleged lack of enthusiasm to help her in a gender-based violence case.

The Chirimba-based mother of two, Ivy Mutawira, is alleged to have been physically assaulted by two suspected drunken police officers on September 4 2020 after one of them attempted to rape her inside her marital house.

Mutawira might have survived the alleged rape attempt, but the thumping was serious enough and resulted in grievous bodily harm. The two police officers are stationed at Chirimba Police Unit.

The victim has now developed a sight problem, but police are yet to take action on its two officers even after the matter was brought to the attention of the Inspector General (IG).

The incident occurred after the cops, in civilian, allegedly forced their way into the house around 7pm to arrest her husband after undisclosed charges. The couple only managed to identify one officer.

Said Mutawira: "After they handcuffed my husband and pulled him outside the house, one of the officers followed me in the bedroom. He grabbed my clothes and started undressing me while saying 'Mpulumutse mwamuna wako' [save your husband].

"I wrestled and managed to overpower him. I pushed him to the floor and that angered him so he started punching me ruthlessly."

The woman suffered facial bruises and reported the matter to Blantyre Police Station the same night where her husband was also taken to.

Said Mutawira: "The police issued us with a report to access treatment at Gateway Clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The police advised us to wait at home for feedback.

"Since then, we have had no feedback from them and each time we inquire we are just told to wait because the matter is being investigated."

The Centre for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance (Chreaa) has since intervened in the matter. Other organisations include Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA Malawi), Mother Theresa, Fact Women Empowerment Network and One Stop Centre.

The group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has since written the IG George Kainja on the matter.

In their letter, the CSOs have asked the IG to urgently probe, arrest, charge and prosecute the responsible officers for attempted rape and grievous harm.

Reads the letter in part: "That, for accountability and transparency sake, we urge you to publicly keep the nation, the victim, her relations and ourselves abreast of any actions you will have undertaken on the matter since the is of national interest."

The IG was given 14 days to act but, according to Chreea litigation office Ruth Kaima, the police head is yet to act on the matter.

She said: "We have not received any feedback either from the police IG or the officer-in-charge of Blantyre Police Station who promised to swiftly act on the matter.

"This is worrisome because police officers' mandate is to protect citixens, uphold their human rights and ensure the rule of law is respected."

But National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said the issue was still being investigated to establish what happened before action could be taken.