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Police officers injured in prison warders’ strike

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Three police officers from the Criminal Investigation Department have been admitted to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) after being assaulted by striking prison warders at Chichiri Prison.

One of the prison warders who witnessed the incident told our reporter that the police officers, in civilian, went to the facility for other duties, but they were surrounded by the angry protesters who roughed them up and stole their mobile phones, among other items.

One of the police officers is reported to have lost a tooth before he was rushed to QECH. The matter was being treated internally as it involved two security agencies in the country.

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National Police Spokesperson James Kadadzera was non-committal to comment on the incident saying they have not been briefed on the matter.

Prison warders were staging a nationwide strike—blocking access to the prison facilities— in an effort force government to include Malawi Prison Service (MPS) in mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic while also demanding immediate promotion of all junior officers.

The irate junior officers have since vowed to continue with the strike until government addresses their grievances.

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The warders, according to their representatives, are not happy with what they called continued sidelining by government of their department and poor working conditions.

Citing the failure by government to allocate funds to MPS for mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic, the irate workers lamented that government does not care about their safety and welfare in general.

In separate interviews with The Daily Times reporters that visited the facilities in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu, the warders said their concerns were that their colleagues in the Malawi Police Service and Immigration Department are given preferential treatment.

“So we are demanding immediate promotion of all junior officers and provision of a minimum of K60,000 risk allowance a month. The fact that we work in an equally risky environment as regards the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be overemphasised,” said one of the warders at Chichiri Prison.

In Mzuzu, the main entrance to Mzuzu Prison was closed as early as 8 o’clock in the morning with barbed wire and tree branches.

On Wednesday, Malawi Prisons Service Chief Commissioner, Grace Wandika Phiri, summoned 12 junior officers to a roundtable discussion to avert a possible sit-in.

The sit-in means suspects who are on remand at various prison establishments will not be allowed to attend court hearings and that suspects cannot be allowed entry into the prisons, among others.

Minister of Home Affairs Nicholas Dausi said he had not yet received the warders’ complaints.

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