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Suspicious police transfers at State residences

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By Feston Malekezo:

Gift Trapence

Over 10 police officers operating in State residences have been transferred to other formations for allegedly supporting opposition political parties before the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections which have seen President Peter Mutharika retaining power.

Mutharika took an oath of office for his second five-year term at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Tuesday.

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Sources who happen to be some of the affected police officers in Blantyre, but opted for anonymity, confirmed being transferred from Sanjika Palace to unspecified posts.

The sources said they received phone calls at around 7pm on Monday, instructing them never to report for duties the following day.

“It was surprising but, because it was an instruction from our seniors, we had to adhere to it. However, an hour or so later, we received another phone call instructing us to report for normal duties that very night. That was around 8pm. There were at least 13 of us there. Our identification cards and hats were withdrawn and we were told never to report for duties the following day,” the source said.

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At around 11 o’clock in the evening, the officers said they received another phone call with instructions that they could no longer operate from the State residence and that, at 6am on Tuesday, a pick-up would be ready to ferry their families to wherever place she could find.

State residences which the men in uniform man include Lilongwe State House, Ntunthama Residence, Mzuzu State House, Sanjika Palace, Zomba State House and Chikoko Bay in Mangochi District.

National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, described the transfers as normal.

“Every police officer is aware that he or she can be transferred at any time to any place; it is normal in Malawi Police Service,” he said.

Kadadzera, however, quashed assertions that the transfers were politically-motivated, saying this is a democratic country where people talk and connect developments such as transfers to politics.

Reacting to the development, Human Rights Defenders Coalition Vice-Chairperson, Gift Trapence, said the transfers were clear political witch-hunting.

“We have always fought against this; let Malawians be employed on the aspect that they are citizens of this country but not that they are supporting a ruling party. We should not use tribalism, ethnicity or regionalism to employ people in the civil service. This is too bad for our democracy,” he said.

In January 2019, six police officers were transferred from Kanengo Police Station in Lilongwe to remote police formations in the Northern Region for allegedly receiving UTM T-shirts.

Some 42 police officers from former vice president Saulos Chilima’s office and Mudi Residence in Blantyre were also moved and transferred to PMS ‘B’ Division.

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