Some senior police officers named in the recently released Commission of Inquiry report into the death of former Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa have been sent on forced leave to pave way for further investigations.
Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo confirmed that former Southern Region Police Commissioner Rodney Jose, who was transferred to Mtakataka Police College where he was Commandant, has been sent on leave.
The other officer is Deputy Commissioner Willie Mwaluka, who was head of training based at National Police headquarters.
"The senior officers were sent on leave pending the completion of investigations. This was done in the interest of justice. They will remain on leave until the investigations are complete and clear direction in terms of prosecutions is determined. The best is being done to ascertain that this does not take a long time," said Manjolo.
Chasowa, a student activist, was found dead on college campus on September 24 last year. Although Police certified him as a suicide, and published two suicide notes to buttress their claim, an autopsy report by pathologist Charles Dzamalala, indicated that he was bludgeoned to death.
Soon after assuming office last April following the sudden death of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika, President Joyce Banda instituted the inquiry to probe the controversial circumstances surrounding the student's death.
A report on the findings named a number of suspects including former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and police officers. Some of the suspects, including DPP southern region governor Noel Masangwi, DPP youth director Lewis Ngalande and boxing promoter Mike Chitenje, were arrested in connection with the death.
They have since been released on bail.
Among other things, the report - presented to Banda in October - revealed that Chasowa interacted with senior police officers – including former police chief Peter Mukhito and Jose - in the run up to his mysterious death.
The inquiry, chaired by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Andrew Nyirenda, revealed that following the unprecedented July 20, 2011 anti-government demonstrations Chasowa and his friends - Duncan Phiri, Phaniso Mhone and Justice Kangulu - had meetings with Mukhito and Jose to strategise how to thwart a repeat of the demonstrations scheduled for August 17, 2011.
Mwaluka, on the other hand, is named in the report for the press release he signed which suggested that Chasowa had committed suicide, citing two suicide notes police claimed the deceased student had left behind.