Abused: How criminals violated a detective who busted them


By Wezzie Gausi

For nearly 20 years of serving in the police as a passionate detective, things sailed gloriously for Edith (real name changed) – until one night early in 2019 when all crumbled.

Weeks earlier, she had busted a gang of robbers that had killed a businessman in Lilongwe.


In retaliation, the colleagues of the bandits she had swooped on exacted on her an experience that has become her nightmare.

Edith, 42, a single mother of three children, serves as a Detective Sub-Inspector in the Criminal Investigations Department at police Headquarters in Lilongwe.

Being a detective has been her life.


In that line of duty, she has arrested notorious criminals.

The case that landed her in trouble happened around Mitundu Trading Centre in Lilongwe when a gang of robbers killed a famous business person in the area.

Edith was deployed to crack on it.

In her trademark, she infiltrated the network and managed to get all the suspects linked to the case arrested.

In court, the suspects accepted all charges levelled against them.

This proved to be a double-edged sword. It was a highpoint of her career. But it also turned out to be the lowest in her job and personal life.

Days passed and everything looked normal until one night when hell broke loose.

That night, she and a friend were walking from Mchesi Township side in Lilongwe to her home in the police lines in Malangalanga area.

It was around 8 pm.

Then, suddenly, a group of bandits encircled them. They tried to escape but Edith fell into their net. She knew this would be her end.

“One of them told me this was my day of judgement. They shouted at me, asking me who I think I was to be investigating into people’s lives.

“I was trembling. I told them I didn’t know what they were talking about. That infuriated them and one of them hit me with a panga,” she says.

Then came another shuddering moment.

‘Let’s just rape her,’ said one of them while tearing Edith’s dress.

She tried all she had been trained on self-defence to free herself. She was overpowered and lost control.

One by one, the bandits, about 15 of them, took turns to rape her.

But there was one more hit they had plotted: to end her life.

“One of them said they should also kill me because it was possible I knew some of them,” she says.

But just before they could execute the plan, there beamed vehicle lights onto the scene.

“It was a police vehicle. My friend who had escaped reported to the authorities that I was being attacked,” she says.

The criminals escaped into the darkness.

She was taken to hospital where a medical examination found that she was heavily wounded in the private parts.

“I stayed in hospital for close to six months as I went through several surgeries,” she says.

Throughout the time she was in hospital, the police service did not look after her, she says.

When she was discharged, her employers transferred her from her duty post she was serving to the police headquarters at Area 30.

“All this time there was no arrest made on those people who abused me. It was only after I had inquired that some people were arrested.

“After the arrest, the family of the suspects were on my neck, calling me and threatening me that they would kill me,” she says.

The case came in court last year where the suspects were found with the case to answer.

It waits defence lawyers to make their submissions for the case to continue.

And as the case drags, Edith is contending with trauma and fear.

She says she is unable to move around freely for fear of being attacked.

“All the suspects were given bail and they always threaten me,” she says.

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa says what happened to Edith is demoralising in her job and degrading to her human dignity.

He urges both the police and the court to make sure there is justice in the case.

“The case highlights the challenges female police officers face in the country,” he says.

According to Kaiyatsa, the Malawi Police Service has an obligation to ensure the safety of all police officers, including female officers.

Executive Secretary for Malawi Human Right Commission (MHRC) Habiba Osman says what happened to Edith is clear violation of her human rights.

She says if needs be, MHRC will refer her case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for further action.

“We will be monitoring the progress of her case. We will engage the relevant authorities on her behalf, so that she should be helped accordingly,” Osman says.

Malawi Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya asked for more time to give out his comments.

Edith’s case is one of the many abuses that women police officers face from the public.

But inside, the system is also a cauldron for them.

In November last year, female police officers penned MHRC, complaining about sexual abuses in the service and at the police headquarters.

In a letter addressed to MHRC, the officers highlighted “injustices especially sexual abuses from seniors.”

“If there is rampant abuse of women, [it] is here at Police; it has just become a norm now that for anything to go in a woman’s favour at Police, one has to surrender her body.

“It may be good to some women who have no morals but some of us suffer in silence. We want you to investigate certain issues where women are abused sexually,” read the complaint.

In their petition, the women highlighted sexual abuse in relation to the awarding of ranks and promotions.

“Whenever there are rumours of awarding of ranks and promotions, our senior ranked officers will talk to you in all sorts of languages such as mukuumila izo ndi zanu, amzanu azidutsa muli pompo. Tithandize kuti nawe tikuthandize [You are not forthcoming for sex. Your colleagues will be getting promoted while you are static. Help us so we can help you in turn]”.

On peace keeping missions, the women officers claim that “most women” who go for peacekeeping mission have had to have sex with their bosses to be considered for these assignments.

They claimed: “Kupolisi kuti mzimayi zikuyendere mwachangu ugone ndi bwana ukwera pompo pompo [For a woman to rise quickly in the police, you have to sleep with the bosses]” said the petition.

According to government records, one in five women in Malawi have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, and that 42 percent of girls in Malawi experience physical violence before their 18th birthday.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker