No ‘toying’ with guns


For any serious country worth its name, the citizenry would not take kindly to a scenario where the state of security deteriorates to a point where lives are threatened. Thus, the recent uproar by Malawians, who have been breathing down the neck of the country’s law enforcers, pressing them to cramp down on criminals, are justified.

For starters, foreign investors who really care about where they put their money would usually take into consideration the state of security in any country they would want to invest in to ensure that not only their investment is secure but also that business integration at inter-country or global level should be seamless if ever they would want to transact at that level.


A spate of robberies and muggings in the major cities of Mzuzu, Blantyre and Lilongwe over the past few weeks was enough to set off the rails some patriotic Malawians, who rightfully directed their anger at the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and its parent, the Homeland Security Ministry.

Well, respond they did the law enforcers and they did it in no ordinary fashion. On Monday this week, brave men and women from Soche Police in Blantyre took down a ring of suspected robbers who had attempted to raid one of the high street banks housed within the Chichiri Shopping Mall. Going by the words of the national spokesperson of the MPS Peter Kalaya, the law enforcers suspect that these could be the very same individuals that have been giving people sleepless nights elsewhere, hinting that they might have been the ones that had mounted an ‘illegal’ roadblock at Number 1 in Thyolo District where a sum of about K4 million was stolen from two unsuspecting innocent Malawians.

It did not stop there; the authorities at Area 30 went further to warn all and sundry that they would not hesitate to shoot on sight (well, they do put it mildly as spelled out in the law by saying ‘use of reasonable force’) all resistant suspected criminals to either disable or even kill them, depending on circumstances.


We must hail those brave police officers for defusing the situation before it even got out of hand at Chichiri that day. Who knows, maybe innocent people other than the suspects might have been injured or killed had the suspects successfully executed their foiled mission. Which reminds me; there is this sick tendency whereby people rush to watch at close range in a shootout as was the case at Chichiri. Please if we can, let us avoid this at all cost because you never know a stray bullet might end up hitting you. Of course, sometimes it helps as people act as an immediate re-enforcement when taking down criminals but that only works when you are ably guided and summoned but, if not, the consequences can sometimes might be fatal.

Let us now come to the little matter of the suspects having been ‘armed’ with a ‘toy’ gun. As rightly observed by many, when you’re in the line of fire, particularly in jobs of security nature and where guns (real or otherwise) are involved, it is either kill or get killed. Allow me to quote former Inspector General of Police Lot Dzonzi who opined as follows:

“A toy gun in so far as an armed robbery is concerned is an offensive weapon. Wait till you are attacked by armed robbers with a toy gun and see if you will identify it as such and say to the robber, ‘Hahahaha! It’s a toy gun!’ And go back to bed.”

Now, the esteemed retired IG is one of the best to have walked within the corridors of Area 30 and if he dishes out such insights for free, you better listen and listen well. He goes on:

“In my training I was taught that the only person who knows that it is a toy gun is the one handling it. When you are a police officer facing a criminal with a gun you face a situation where you shoot first or the criminal shoots first.”

Indeed, when you are being attacked, you are obviously oblivious to the fact that the attacker might be holding a toy gun as only he or she might be in a position to know, unless you were trained and are able to recognise one as a toy gun. I therefore do not find any merit in the argument by some who are of the view that the law enforcers on Monday were ‘heavy handed’ in dealing with those suspects armed with a toy gun and machetes.

Like it or not, there is no ‘toying around’ when it comes guns.

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