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Uniformed bandits

Three weeks ago, I was way-laid by some fat and craggy-faced men in uniform who hid in the bushes near Tsangano.

I was on my way from Lilongwe. They said I was driving beyond the recommended speed. They were right, I must say. The road-post demanded that I should drive 50 Kilometres per hour but, since I had to rush for work, I was cruising at 70.

The “good” men in uniform did their work perfectly and, as per dictates of the law, told me that I should pay a fine of K10, 000 for driving beyond speed limit. I paid and the “good” police officer gave me a receipt and signaled that I could proceed. It was my mother and my uncle—who I had travelled with—who reminded me that I should ask for government’s General Receipt (GR). I did. Reluctantly, the bulbous police officer directed me to another officer who was reclining on a chair in a Toyota Sienta, busy belching. When I told him that I needed a GR for the fine paid for my traffic offence, he looked unamused and looked at me with some cold disdain.

“Mufunadi lisiti kapena tingoona m’mene tichitire?” [Are you sure you want a receipt or we can just strike a deal?” I insisted to get my receipt. Reluctantly, he issued one which I still keep.

That incid past few weeks. Over the years, I have never veiled my deeply entrenched mistrust of the thugs who we glorify as police. Police in Malawi have proven to be a menace other than protectors of the innocent.

Last week, The Daily Times carried a story about some raw, rustic and uncouth savages who were enlisted as policemen who, in their basic brains and professional ineptitude, decided to sexually assault some innocent young girls.

The depiction of the story by the victims was stomach-churning such that any human being would have some serious nausea to rehash. The debilitating fact is that these savages wearing police uniform are people who survive on our taxes and actually those who are supposed to make sure that we are safe all the time.

Some weeks ago, Human Rights Defenders Coalition and some members of Parliament joined in arms to stop the confirmation of Duncan Mwapasa as Inspector General of Police. Their argument has been that Mwapasa has shown utmost bias in the execution of duty as head of the police service. That is their point. We might agree or not. But putting it straight, I would say Mwapasa is just on the long list of top government officials who move around with the proverbial tails between their legs for the sake of job security. It, of course, becomes a serious problem when Mwapasa is proven to be a cadet as some quarters claim.

Right now, the police are not the best of buddies with the public. This is obvious. It is damn obvious that the police have, on numerous occasions, proven that they are strictly aligned to the ruling party. That is why cases that obviously point at the wrong-doing of those in opposition are fast-tracked while those of those in power take a snail’s pace.

I laughed the other day when the police announced that they are going to investigate the image in the mirror over the shameful, barbaric, heinous and devilish sexual assault of women and girls of Msundwe, M’bwatalika and Mpingu in Lilongwe. All the police has come up with is the uninspiring and tedious refrain of we are investigating the matter further.

Our police, let us put it in clear, lucid, succinct and thorough terms is led and has been infiltrated by uniformed bandits.

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