Information transmitted to the Government
370. By letter dated 9 June 1993 the Special Rapporteur informed the Government of reports he had received about arrests and short-term imprisonment of supporters of the movement for a multi-party system that allegedly occurred in 1992. The conditions of imprisonment of those arrested were reported to be exceptionally poor. The main prisons to which they were taken, Chichiri in Blantyre and Maula in Lilongwe, were reportedly those with the worst conditions and the most severe overcrowding in the country. Prisoners were forced to spend the night standing crammed together because there was not even space for them to sit. Many of those arrested were alleged to have been subjected to severe beatings, electric shocks and sexual abuse.
371. It was also reported that assault and torture were crimes under Malawi's Penal Code and unlawful under Malawi's civil law, entitling the victim to sue for damages. However, no prosecution or civil action for assault or torture was known to have taken place. The following individual cases were reported:
(a) Sophia Nkosana was arrested on about 17 April 1992 and held for about five days before being released without charge. While she was in custody at police headquarters in Lilongwe she was reported to have been stripped naked, beaten, poked with a cattle prod and placed in a cell smeared with excrement.
(b) Samuel Mkandawire and Kenneth Govati, student union officials, were arrested in Blantyre on 17 March 1992. They were among a group of approximately 75 students arrested by the police at the polytechnic in response to a demonstration and taken to Chichiri prison and Chilomoni and Ndirande police posts, where they were beaten. Samuel Mkandawire and Kenneth Govati were also alleged to have been tortured by having their genitals squeezed.
(c) Chakufwa Chihana, Secretary General of the Southern African Trades Union Coordination Council (SATUCC), was arrested on 6 April 1992 and taken to Mikuyu prison, a maximum security prison in Zomba. He was put in an extremely small cell, only the size of his body, where the window had been deliberately blocked off. The first night the warders put a wild cat in the cell and, for almost one month, he was held in leg irons.