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Troubled year for police

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The Malawi Police Service (MPS) was established to protect lives of people and their properties when citizens see innocent people being shot by police they ask themselves why police exists. When police is attacked by thugs and lose, the citizens feel insecure.

The past year saw the dramatic resignation of Paul Kanyama as Inspector General while Parliament was discussing his fate. Kanyama resigned on February 6 on medical grounds although it is generally believed that Kanyama, on the other hand, had no Credetials befitting the office. President Peter Mutharika appointed Lexten Kachama who was unanimously confirmed by the National Assembly.

Notable incidents

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Under Kachama, lots of things have happened. There were many cases of police officers involved in robberies, in other cases officers getting killed in the course of duty and in more others being spotted drinking liquor while in uniform.

Memories are still fresh of what happened on October 24 when criminals shot dead a police officer Sub Inspector Yohane Butao and went away with over K6 million collected from OG Plastics shops in Limbe, Blantyre. According to the then National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo, late Butao lost his life at the hands of the robbers who seemed very prepared for the mission.

The other incident which Malawians cannot forget is the fracas that happened in Chilomoni Township in Blantyre when residents torched Chilomoni Police Unit. This symbolized a poor relationship between the police and communities. Later, the two sides sobered up and started talking peace. The sour relationship between the two sides was amended and reconstruction of the police unit started.

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In October residents of Bangwe Township clashed with the police following the shooting of a 16 year-old boy, Mike Mhango. The incident could not have led into fracas if there was good relationship between the police and people in the area.

In Central Region, police came under attack for taking too long to arrest culprits in the brutal murder of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director of Corporate Services Issa Njauju whose body was discovered half buried on July 5 in Lilongwe. The ACB Director General told the press that post-mortem results showed that Njauju was shot twice in the neck and chest before he was buried near Lilongwe River.

Such incidents need quick investigations and arrests because they pose a security threat among citizens.

And in the Northern Region, it is sad that the police admitted that some officers are engaged in bad behaviour like drinking liquor sachets while on duty. The Commissioner responsible for the region, Martha Suwedi ,told members of the community policing in Mzuzu to take photos of officers who misbehave and report them to her office.

Suwedi also confessed that her region had no capacity to handle the festive season security without help from stakeholders in the form of fuel and patrol vehicles.

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Acting Secretary Martin Chiphwanya said due to the nature of their job, police are prone to corruption. According to Chiphwanya in 2015 there were concerns from different stakeholders that the police are very corrupt.

“The alleged involvement of some police officers in several high-profile robbery cases has also left the public alarmed and in great fear. The very personnel charged with the responsibility of our safety have of late become public enemy in some instances.

The public seems to have lost some confidence in the service evidenced by the strained relationship between the police and the public. Many cases have been recorded of the public torching police stations and staff houses all as result of the unsatisfactory way in which the service has handled some cases,” said Chiphwanya.

He said there is need to build the capacity of police by re-training them in anti-corruption initiatives, ethics and proper code of conduct. He added while the government needs to be commended for purchasing vehicles for the police, still more needs to be done especially to equip police officers with resources so that they can deal with crime timely and efficiently.

Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod of CCAP Executive Director Moses Mkandawire said Malawians should gauge the performance of police according to the resources provided. Mkandawire said officers are facing a lot of problems that make it difficult to perform professionally as expected by the public.

“I think we gauge our police officers’ performance against their resources. Their salaries are poor, houses, vehicles for patrol and poor funding for fuel. How can we expect them to perform 100%? I wish nongovernmental organisations, the corporate world and some individuals partnered with the police and provided some resources used for their operations bearing in mind that the country is passing through economic challenges,” said Mkandawire.

All in all, Malawians are expecting to get the needed security as they are entitled to as citizens of the country.

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