At least 16 bullets were fired Monday by thugs who killed a police officer and injured another in broad daylight in Lilongwe, but police have maintained that they will not reintroduce the shoot-to-kill strategy in fighting armed criminals.
Inspector General (IG) Lexten Kachama said during an impromptu press briefing – which was also attended by Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Atupele Muluzi – after the shooting that the law enforcers will only use necessary force as prescribed by law.
During the movie-like scenario, the thugs overtook and blocked a minibus which was carrying an undisclosed amount of money en route to a bank.
They then fled using a black Nissan Sedan which they later abandoned after it apparently developed a fault.
The thugs then hijacked a passenger minibus and forced everyone out before bolting with it.
The money, which was robbed at a roundabout on Paul Kagame Road near Amina House Roundabout, belonged to Petroda Malawi Limited.
The criminals also bolted with the slain officer’s rifle, which was later recovered by police together with two vehicles that had been abandoned by the thugs.
Kachama, who looked downcast and sounded low throughout the briefing, condoled the family of the slain cop and promised that the police will do everything possible to apprehend the criminals.
“I know that the issue of the shoot-to-kill policy has been under debate for quite a long time, but there is no law that allows us to shoot to kill. It is unfortunate that criminals are taking the line of killing innocent Malawians and police officers, but as police, we are supposed to work within the law,” he said.
He added: “As police, we shall work very hard. We shall be tough. We shall fight, but using necessary force as prescribed by our laws.”
The shoot-to-kill strategy, which was once declared by former president Bingu wa Mutharika, apparently contributed to the reduction in crime rates in the country, but some human rights defenders said the directive undermined the sanctity of human life.
Still, some observers are of the view that the reintroduction of the strategy could be beneficial in the fight against armed criminal attacks.
In his remarks, Muluzi said safeguarding lives and property of Malawians and investors is one of government’s highest priorities.
The Internal Security Minister, himself once a victim of a robbery attack at his Lilongwe residence, disclosed that he has been holding talks with the IG on how to effectively deal with the increasing crime rate in the country.
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