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K1.5 billion needed to rehabilitate demolished police stations, units

SINGLED OUT LOSS OF PUBLIC TRUST—Hajat

Malawi News can reveal that more than fifteen police stations, posts and roadblocks were torched or completely destroyed from January to December 2019 in the country.

The police units include; Chitedze, Njewa, Mpingu , Msundwe and Mvama in Lilongwe as well as Nkhamenya Police Post in Kasungu.

Senga-bay Police Unit and Kaphatenga Roadblocks were demolished in Salima.

Chiputula,Chiwavi and Nyungwe Police Unit as well as Lukulu and Iponga roadblocks,Hewe and Bwengu Police Units were affected In the Northern Region, and in the South, it was Masambanjati Police Post In Thyolo.

Malawi Police Service Public Relations Officer James Kadadzera confirmed that a lot of police units, including roadblocks, were torched and others demolished in different districts of the country.

“Most of the police units are built by the community and police will always deploy their man-power whenever they have been asked, however a new and fully fledged police unit may require up to K100 million to construct,” Kadadzera said.

Speaking during the 2019 Christmas and New Year Ball, Acting Inspector General of Police, Duncan Mwapasa, admitted that public order management faced a challenge as people targeted police during demonstrations that ensued following dissatisfaction by two opposition leaders in the aftermath of the May 21 elections.

He appealed to Malawians not to allow criminal elements create safe havens in their areas by burning down police stations and police units.

“When these criminals strike, it will be difficult for police officers to drive long distances from the remaining police formations to attend to your security needs. We have to bear in mind that police services are required in every society in Malawi,” Mwapasa said.

He said the police will work towards bringing back the services to the public, regardless of what happened because it is their constitutional mandate to protect Malawians.

Mwapasa said police will not forget about the people who perpetrated such crimes, but will make sure that criminals that instigated the acts are brought to book.

Human rights expert Rafik Hajat says the destruction of police units and roadblocks was due to loss of public trust in the service, due to its perceived bias in the enforcement of law.

He said police should work towards regaining the trust by employing various mechanisms, including strengthening their working relationship with community policing structures.

“Let police do some serious homework to regain trust, Malawi Police Service (MPS) embarked on a police reform programme that was financed by the British government after the 1994 general elections. 15 years down the line, the MPS is still characterised by brutality and force when its officers are carrying out their duties,” Hajat said.

Most of the police stations were destroyed in the aftermath of the highly contested May 21 Tripartite Elections, with the period June to December registering the biggest number.

2019 ushered in a lot of unprecedented events in the history of Malawi politics, as pre and post-election period was marred with litigation, violent killings and destruction of property.

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