Malawi: Returnees From South Africa Torch Malawi Prison Facilities, Protest Quarantine

(File photo).
11 January 2021

Property has been destroyed at Mapanga Prison Training College in Blantyre following a scuffle between Malawians who recently returned from South Africa and police officers.

The returnees went rioting as they demanded their passports back and immediate release to go to their homes, protesting the quarantine protocol.

Police had to use tear gas to restore order as the impatient returnees also blocked the Blantyre - Zomba Road and smashed passing vehicles.

Some of the returnees also torched some structures at the prison training school which during one-party dictatorship was used as a Malawi Young Pioneers training base.

At least 518 Malawian returnees arrived in the country from South Africa on Saturday through Mwanza Border Post amid concerns from some quarters in society that the returnees were escalating cases of Covid-19 as the pandemic is being imported in the country by the returnees.

Immigration department Mwanza Border spokesperson, Pasqually Zulu, said the returnees were demanding that authorities give them back their passports but said they could only get their travel documents upon getting their results from health officials who conducted Covid-19 tests on them.

"We are not giving them any passport until all the processes are concluded," Zulu said.

Malawi Prison Services spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba said they are disappointed with the conduct by the returnees, adding that the value of property damaged will be known once assessment is completed by next week.

"We have not assessed what has been damaged so far but we will know in a week," Shaba said in an interview.

In his daily updates on the status of the pandemic in the country on Sunday, Presidential Task Force on Covid 19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka said Malawi has recorded 8 575 cases including 225 deaths and of these cases, 1678 are imported infections and 6 896 are locally transmitted.

Cumulatively, 5 824 cases have now recovered, 134 were lost to follow-up, and 76 are still being investigated to ascertain their outcome.

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