February 28, 2017 by Lisa Tembo
Friday morning, on February 24th, Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) staff drove to Blantyre Magistrate Court to support Robert Moyo, a street vendor, who was awaiting a verdict in his unlawful wounding case.
Mr. Moyo dragged two city rangers, Mr. Macford Majonga and Mr. Innocent Maluwa to court on the charge of unlawful wounding after they allegedly beat him severely after he allegedly warned his counterpart on the rangers move to chase the vendors plying their trade in the street. He lost two teeth in the process.20170224_141643
But few minutes upon arrival, CHREAA staff were informed that the court will sit at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the team went back to their office and returned after five hours.
During the court session, magistrate Ibrahim Hussein calmly read the judgment, making one think that the court has ruled in favour of Moyo but in the end Hussein exonerated Majonga and Maluwa from the charge of unlawfully wounding Moyo.
In his ruling, magistrate Hussein said that there was a high possibility that Mr Moyo could have lost his teeth after falling down while resisting an arrest by the rangers as testified by one of the defense witnesses.
Hussein cited a medical report which indicated that Moyo sustained bruises both on the chest and forehead, arguing that that could have been caused by the same impact. He also took into account that city rangers do not use weapons when carrying out their duties contradicting Mr. Moyo’ s argument that he was beaten with an object.
Lawyer for CHREAA Fostino Mayere, was not pleased with the court’s ruling. He said that the evidence he presented before the court should have satisfied the magistrate to make a conviction. He asked for more time to go through the judgment in order to determine the way forward.
Robert Moyo is a newspaper vendor who plies his business in the city of Blantyre, but on this particular day Mr. Moyo was not on duty. It was on a Tuesday 19th July 2016 around 4 pm at Malswitch when a certain lady asked Mr. Moyo to look after her car for some few minutes. No sooner had he agreed to the lady’s request than the city rangers arrived on the scene. Mr Moyo was then brutally beaten by the city rangers for allegedly alerting a vendor selling Mandasi whom the rangers spotted and had planned to apprehend. Moyo had interfered in their routine activity of arresting vendors who trade their businesses in undesignated places contrary to the city’s bylaws.
Moyo was then handcuffed and taken to Wenera police station alongside his uncle who could not bear to abandon him as he was bleeding from his mouth. He was detained at the station for the whole night without medical care. Mr. Moyo said he cried the whole night because of the pain from his jaws. The following day in the afternoon hours, it was when Mr Moyo was taken to the hospital for treatment. Few days later, he filed a law suit against the two Blantyre city rangers for unlawful wounding. Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) joined the prosecution team through its lawyer Festino Mayere to access justice.
There have been concerns from various people in the city of Blantyre over the conduct of the city rangers in their campaign to keep Blantyre city clean. Many vendors have suffered various degrees of injuries and loss of property when they are intercepted by the rangers