At 10.38am on Saturday July 4 2015, Embangweni Police Unit in Mzimba was not yet open for services and about 20 villagers, who had travelled from communities around the unit, were seen waiting for law enforcers to show up.
The people sat under trees in search of shelter from the sweltering sun, hoping that the unit would open and officers would attend to their issues so that they could go back home to conduct their daily business.
But that was not the case on that fateful day, at least for the morning part which we observed.
The people sounded helpless and said they were suffering in silence as there was nothing they could do to ensure that the police officers opened the unit.
Later, we also learnt that the tiny structure they called a police unit, which we found closed, was actually keeping suspects despite all windows and doors being firmly closed.
“I left my home at 7am and arrived here around 9am. I was hoping that I would find the police unit open but until now it is closed. We have not seen any police officer here,” said Gift Banda, one of the people we found at the unit.
He had travelled from Thoza, situated at about a two hours walk from Embangweni Police Unit.
“We are waiting for the bwanas to open,” said Banda.
An old woman, Tryness Chirwa, who said was born in 1943, had also walked for about two hours from Dimi Village to the police unit and arrived around 9am only to find the place closed.
She to see her sons whom she said were locked up in the cell for jumping bail.
Several other people we talked to expressed displeasure at the conduct of the police officers for disregarding their duty.
“We came early to get early service and go back home in good time to do other things that can bring money to our homes. But we are spending the whole day here in anticipation that the unit would open. This is unfair. We do not know what to do apart from just waiting for them until they come,” said Alfred Gondwe, who wanted to report a suspected murder case.
According to the people, there are five police officers at Embangweni Police Unit although none of them was available at the time of the interviews.
In an interview later, Off i c e r-in-Charge for Mzimba Police Station, Davies Mulepa, expressed surprise at the news.
“We do not close office. That is abnormal. That is not the way we work. If there was a problem, I should have been alerted but I was not. I am going to find out what happened. Thank you for telling me that. You are our eyes. We need such tips,” he said.
Meanwhile, Church and Society of the Livingstonia CCAP Synod Executive Director Moses Mkandawire has since condemned the conduct of the police officers.
He warned the officers to avoid taking villagers for granted for their lack of knowledge on human rights.
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