18 April 2019

Malawi: Legal Expert Says State Cannot Prosecute Ambulance Driver Over Presidential Convoy

A renowned legal expert says the State cannot prosecute an ambulance driver who cruised past a presidential convoy with two critically ill patients, saying the traffic laws gives both sick people and the President priority on the roads.

Dzonzi: Traffic laws gives both the Head of State and sick people in ambulances a priority on the roads of Malawi

The ambulance driver has been summoned by the police at its headquarters in Lilongwe and was set to meet a senior traffic officer after their bid to arrest him drew anger from all corners of the society.

He has since been suspended from work.

But Justin Dzonzi says the traffic laws gives both the Head of State and sick people in ambulances a priority on the roads of Malawi.

"However, the traffic laws do not say which one of the two, the President and the sick people should have the priority over each other but common sense tells that the priority should be given to a sick person rushing to hospital for medical attention," he said.

District Commissioner for Lilongwe Lawford Palani said the ambulance should have given priority to the presidential convoy, saying the president's security is most important, describing the action by the ambulance driver as indiscipline.

Timothy Mtambo of Human Rights Defenders Coalition called for the amendment of the traffic laws, saying they should be clear that ambulances should be given a priority on the roads over the presidential convoy.

"In fact, these laws of giving a priority to the presidential convoy are archaic and draconian. We just need to scrap them off altogether," said Mtambo.

In the morning, senior staff from Area 25 Health Centre where the ambulance driver works accompanied him to the police headquarters but were sent back and told to report in the afternoon.

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