Boy Spends 4 Months in Police Cell Despite Court Bail

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A boy aged 17 has been in police custody at Lilongwe Police Station for close to four months now against provisions of the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act of 2010, Zodiak Online can reveal.

The boy, who we shall call Mavuto to protect his identity, was detained for suspected burglary and theft in October 2022.

Despite a Child Justice Court granting Mavuto bail, no one stepped forward to take custody of the boy such that the courts ordered that he be taken to a reformatory center.

A source in the police service told Zodiak Online, Mavuto remains at Lilongwe Police Station awaiting what he says are logistical arrangements for him to be taken to Chirwa Reformatory Center in Zomba.

“The boy had no one to come collect him and act as his sureties when a Child Justice Court ordered his release on bail. His parents and relatives have, despite several invitations, refused to come forward,” said the source.

Spokesperson for Lilongwe Police Station Hastings Chigalu, however, says while the boy is indeed in their custody, his office has no information on how long he has been there.

Chigalu says he does not even know why the boy was detained in the first place.

A child rights protection lawyer for the Irish Rule of Law International, Martha Pigott, has expressed concern with the goings on.

“There are a number of government ministries and institutions that are concerned with the welfare of children and parliament is supposed to allocate funds for these safety homes under the ministry of social welfare to be constructed and run,” said Pigott.

Minister responsible for children welfare Patricia Kaliyati says her office is interested in the matter. But she concedes that the government has social protection structures that have not been functioning properly.

Said Kaliyati, “If we have officers who are not working; let them be transferred because it does not make sense that we should be talking about these issues as if we don’t have specific people specifically for that.”

Zodiak has information that the Central West Police Division recorded 96 percent cases of child detention in 2022.

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Last modified on Thursday, 26/01/2023

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