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Police seal court premises across Malawi

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The striking judiciary staff on Friday had a rude-awakening when armed police officers evicted them from the court premises, telling them to continue striking in their homes.

Police sealing court premises Police sealing court premises

The police operation started in Mzuzu, Lilongwe then Blantyre and was led by senior police officers.

At the Supreme and High Court premises in Blantyre a woman police officer told the striking officials that they were sealing the premises following orders from Government.

“We are therefore asking you to peacefully go home or continue striking somewhere else other than this government property,” said the police officer.

The striking officials were then ordered out before the police sealed the gates.

Addressing the judiciary staff, one of their leaders Andy Hariwa told his colleagues to go home and return to work on Monday where the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda will address them.

The police action comes barely few days after Government rebuffed the demands of Judiciary support staff to start giving them house allowances and that their conditions of service be harmonised with those of judicial officers.

In a letter signed by Secretary to the Treasury, Ben Botolo, and addressed to Nyirenda Msisha and Company with a copy to Ritz Attorneys, government says it regrets to advise that it has not changed its stand on the matter.

The letter, which was released on August 15, said government has no obligation to make the claimed payments.

The letter says government cannot accept the demand for payment of housing allowances when there are no financial resources to cater for additional payments to the support staff.

“Any form of settlement in relation to the claim is unacceptable,” stated the letter.

The letter further said while government is ready and willing to continue discussing the matter with a view to find a lasting solution, it cannot do so when labour has been withdrawn.

“Government believes the strike is illegal and unless the employees return to work, it shall be compelled to take action within the law,” further stated the letter.

The members of the Judiciary support staff have been on a nationwide strike for two weeks crippling judicial services in the country.

The judicial staff include court clerks, court marshals, drivers, interpreters and court reporters.

Both the government and the support staff settled for renowned lawyer Mordecai Msisya as a conciliator.

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