Two Malawi Police Service (MPS) officers and three officers from the Government Printer have been arrested for allegedly making and issuing counterfeit general receipts (GR).
National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera in an interview on Wednesday said the six suspects were arrested on Tuesday in Lilongwe.
He said the two police officers are Victor Masonga and Emmanuel Magombo, both aged 46, while the three Government Print suspects are technical assistant printer Phillip Mwenye Phiri, 46, and assistant printers Theresa Nkhoma, 46, and Dennis Chikuni Banda, 58.
The national police spokesperson said investigations are underway, but the syndicate is suspected to have used the counterfeit receipts between July 2020 and June 2021, thereby swindling government out about K14.7 million.
Said Kadadzera: “The police officers were working in the Accounts Section at Traffic Police Headquarters [at Area 30 in Lilongwe] and were issuing counterfeit general receipts to collect government revenue…instead of issuing the official general receipt.”
He said the six will answer charges, ranging from making a false document, theft by servant to fraudulent false accounting.
Kadadzera said the arrest of police officers shows that the police will “not shield any of its officers” but prosecute those who break the law.
Meanwhile, Mzuzu University-based governance, peace and security expert Eugenio Njoloma has welcomed the police action and called for suspension of spot fines.
In an interview yesterday, he said some road users are generally reluctant to honour on-the-spot fines for fear of paying corrupt officers.
“This unfortunate scam only aggravates people’s repugnance with the practice of issuing general receipts on the road. On-the-spot fines should be suspended in favour of paying for the offence later,” said Njoloma.
He further called for frequent refresher courses and other monetary or intellectual incentives to help transform and fight corruption in the service.
In a separate interview, Institute for Economic and Peace director Master Dicks Mfune said it is high time the country looked at traffic police control management beyond just police service.
“All of us need to play our role. The security sector reforms should not be an end in themselves, but a means to an end, therefore, the reforms should be continuous. But the police are key to maintaining or restoring police integrity,” he said.
In an interview with our sister paper Weekend Nation last month ahead of the forthcoming MPS 100 years celebration on October 5 this year, Inspector General (IG) of Police George Kainja admitted that some officers are involved in misconduct. He attributed the challenge to lack of proper vetting.
Said the IG: “In the recent past, our vetting has not been sufficiently careful as a result, some criminal elements have sneaked their way into the organisation.
“Pre-employment vetting of candidates is critical to avoid hiring those that have crooked history.”