There is a very disturbing video clip that has gone viral on social media networks. In the video are police officers chasing Chancellor College students as if they were chasing thieves or mad dogs. While some officers continue with the chase, amid loud shouts encouraging each other to catch the students, three officers turn to two girls who just stood by visibly shaking and terrified. One girl is seen sobbing.
In her hand is a scarf, perhaps to shield herself from the cold that Zomba experienced last Tuesday.
As one officer approaches the girls, he slaps one of them and shouts to the one sobbing to stop crying because he hates to hear someone cry. He then repeatedly slaps her.
When I first saw the video, I couldn’t watch it to the end. I just couldn’t stomach it. I imagined the fear the unarmed girls had at the site of the monsters camouflaged as police officers. The overzealous police officers were supposed to protect the students and not to harm them.
What I couldn’t understand is what were the police officers doing at students’ hostel?
I remember in my student days, whenever there was a demonstration, those in the hostels usually were not taking part in the demos. If there was any need to deal with rioting students, these were usually found in the streets, and for Polytechmic that means in the Masauko Chipembere Highway.
Tear-gasing students while they sought refuge in their rooms was an act of terror by the police. Someone has to explain and justify why they needed to chase the students from the hostels. Chase them to where?
It was the same poor judgement on the part of the police that led to the students blocking US second lady Kill Jill Biden. I am so certain the police led the students to the street, and also certain, that the students didn’t know there was some high ranking person on the road on that day. Where else were they supposed to go if they were being chased from their campus?
Our police officers need to go back to class and learn better ways of crowd or riot control. It has shown that in many cases, when there are demos, police use violence or intimidation to scare people away.
We all know that violence breeds violence. In the course of reiteration lives and property are usually lost. There was really no need for the police officers to assault the students.
I know this news has reached the police headquarters and surely people are expecting to hear that justice is served.
These police officers should be brought to book. They can’t be let free. If Malawi Police Service (MPS) is serious about police reform, the two officers beating students have just dented the image of the police and as such I expect police authorities to act on the two officers. n