- Figure represents at least two officers every month
- Analysts urge seriousness in crime fight
More than 30 police officers nationwide have been arrested for their involvement in organised crime, resulting in deaths of some innocent people, according to statistics The Nation has compiled from public records.
Social commentators have since urged authorities to show seriousness in the fight against organised crime, which is on the rise in the country.
The concerns come following the growing number of police officers involved in various crimes, the latest being the arrest last week of 10 police officers in Salima for alleged theft of public property.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national secretary Chris Chisoni said in an interview on Wednesday involvement of police officers in robberies and other crimes has taken away public trust and confidence in the police system.
He said: “These are supposed to be providers of security and if they become partners in crime, public confidence in the police system is incredibly undermined. It is a worrisome development that police involvement is reported at increased rate.”
Chisoni said the police can do better to save its damaged face, but this can only be achieved if authorities stop shielding culprits.
Executive director for Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), Rafiq Hajat, agreed with Chisoni, saying arresting its officers alone is useless minus change of mindset.
Said Hajat: “It requires a whole mindset and attitude change in the system. Arresting a few police officers and shielding others will not stop the problem, but actually drive it underground.”
Malawi Police Service (MPS) confirmed that increased involvement of police officers in organised crime was tarnishing the image of MPS and that it would continue to do everything necessary to safeguard its integrity.
But National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo also said it was difficult to completely deal with the vice because of diverse backgrounds.
Said Manjolo: “We are doing our best to safeguard the integrity of the police service. Our mandate is to enforce the law and not break it or terrorise the very same people we are supposed to protect.
“That is why we continue to arrest anyone who misbehaves within the service because nobody, not even a police officer, is above the law.”
She said it would be hard to completely stop officers from their habits because each one of them joins the service with his or own motive other than that of protecting life and property.
“Not the entire police is bad, there are decent officers, but the problem is that people join the service with diverse backgrounds and others with hidden agenda. It is unfair to blame the police wholesomely as those involved in crime do so in their own capacities,” said Manjolo.
In recent years, scores of police officers have been arrested for being linked to serious crime, including carjacking, armed robberies, and house and shops break-ins.
During the past few months, police officers have been arrested for serious crimes such as the theft of K412 million at Standard Bank Limited Mzuzu Branch.
In March this year, two cops were arrested in Chitipa for alleged theft of K450 000 whereas in 2014, three were arrested in Nkhata Bay, one of them for defilement and the other two for alleged theft of a boat engine.
Earlier this year, police also arrested two of their colleagues in Chilipa, Mangochi in connection with missing money.
Late last year, police officers at Chilobwe Police Post in Blantyre were also linked to various crimes and some were arrested.