13 Police Officers Charged With Murder of Lule
Former Acting Commissioner of Police in Central Region Evalista Chisale and twelve other police officers have been charged with the murder of Buleya Lule, a suspect who died in police custody in February last year.
The 13 suspects were arrested on Friday after the Director of Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale issued a file on the prosecution of the officers over the matter. After spending two nights in a police cell, the suspects appeared before Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba on Monday where they were formally charged.
Principal Resident Magistrate Nyimba, therefore, committed the matter to the High Court because his court has no jurisdiction to preside over murder cases. He also told defense lawyers that they could only make bail applications to the High Court.
However, one of the defense lawyers Enoch Chibwana, representing last accused person Evalista Chisale, asked the court not to remand the suspects to Maula Prison, instead keep them in police custody.
“Your worship, all these accused persons are serving police officers and most of them have worked as investigators until their arrest, so their fear is that if they are not segregated from prisoners they could be harmed.
We, therefore, apply that the court should consider that they still be held at Lilongwe Police Station where they have been since Friday until such a time when the High Court will look at their bail application.” Said Chibwana.
But the state through Senior State Advocate Jean Piriminta objected the application saying it had no basis. She argued that suspects are not first police officers to be remanded to prison.
Piriminta further said the state can arrange for their accommodation at Maula to ensure the suspects' safety.
Principal Resident Magistrate Nyimba, therefore, remanded the suspects to Maula Prison pending commencement of trial.
Speaking to Zodiak outside the court, Chibwana said the application was made to ensure the safety of the suspects.
“You know when these police officers meet those people they once investigated, the convicts may attack them, so we wanted the court to let them be held at the police station until the High Court decides on their bail application.”
He however said they were okay with the court decision to send the 13 on remand at Maula Prison.
“The court has made its decision after considering our application and also what the state presented and we cannot question the decision of the court.”
Buleya Lule was in police custody for the alleged abduction and murder of 14-year-old boy of albinism, Goodson Fanizo in Dedza, and was thought to be a critical suspect to unpacking the puzzle of attacks and killings of people with albinism at the time.
He was found dead in a police cell at Lilongwe Police Station on the morning of 21 February 2019 and an inquiry report by Malawi Human Rights Commission implicated the 13 police officers on the case.
List of suspects from first to last accused person:
- Paul Chipole, 48 years, fromMusamagasa village T/A Machinjiri Blantyre.
- Ikraim Malata, 40 years, from Kakhome village, T/A Kachindamoto Dedza.
- Richard Kalawire, 37 years Kachule village, T/A Kachere Dedza.
- Innocent Wanda, 37 years, Beleu village, T/A Maseya Chikwawa.
- Steve Mashonga, 34 years, Mkwapatira village, T/A Somba Blantyre.
- Maxwell Mbidzi, 33 years, Kachimanga village, T/A Kwataine Ntcheu
- Abel Maseya, 36 years, Kamwaza village, T/A Njolomole Ntcheu
- Dereck Mitswati, 33 years, Njonja village, T/A Kachere Dedza
- Wallen Joshua Chavinda, 51 years Ndakala village, T/A Chindi, Mzimba.
- Ronnex Kapesa, 53 years, Sangano village, T/A Mwabulambia, Chitipa
- Robert Tchaka, 54 years, Kuludzu village, T/A Njolomole, Ntcheu
- Chifundo Moses Chiwambo, 42 years, Chiendausiku, T/A Nsamala, Blaka
- Evalista Goodwin Mvula-Chisale.