Malawi Minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati has asked police to probe civil rights leaders for their hand in the death of Polytechnic student 25 year old Robert Chasowa. The fourth year mechanical engineering student at one of University of Malawi’s constituent college was found dead two weeks ago on college campus in mysterious circumstances that were explained as suicide by the country’s police headquarters. Police spokesperson Willie Mwaluka said a postmortem by one of the country’s leading pathologists, Charles Dzamalala, indicated that Chasowa Chasowa sustained head injuries after dropping himself from a college two story building. Mwaluka alleged that the student, who was involved in the publication of anti government materials, was on the run from the arm of law for publication of news items believed to identify persons behind the torching of Institute of Policy Interaction (IPI) offices.
However, Kaliati told the press Monday that government had information that IPI executive director Rafik Hajat and Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) national coordinator Undule Mwakasungula had been in touch with the student activist days before his death. However, Hajat has said he welcomed the police probe saying the ministers’ allegations shows that government is aware of what happened to Chasowa. Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda wondered why the government is giving conflicting statements on the death. “As civil society we would like the state machinery to probe both the police statement and that of honourable Kaliati,” he said.
Meanwhile, pathologist Dzamalala has disowned the postmortem report released by police saying he is yet to produce his findings. Malawi Human Rights Committee (MHRC), a government human rights body last week announced that it will conduct an independent inquest to ascertain the death of the student believed by his colleagues and family to have been murdered by government agents for his political activism.