Unless police in Area 30 have invented their own law which forbids journalists from taking pictures of their public operations, the baring of fangs against unarmed and innocent Malawians must stop.
After 31 years of MCP brutal dictatorship and police State, it has been 20 years since Malawian decided to do away with that horrible part of our history and that the human rights discourse will now be our new culture.
This was mainstreamed in the Constitution through our Bill of Rights.
Why some police officers think when they put on that ugly uniform of theirs and then carry guns and batons (which the State gives them on our behalf, by the way), it gives them the power to reverse this and harass and beat up innocent citizens as they did the other day in Limbe is mind boggling.
Further disturbing is that the Blantyre City Council officials have joined in this cruelty, beating innocent residents, including women, in the name of cleaning up the streets of open vending.
Shockingly, while government through the Ministry of Information has come out strongly against the brutality in Limbe, the police top brass in Area 30 have been deathly mute, at least by the time I am writing this.
All its spokespersons did on Tuesday is to fumble and say senseless things that only reflected arrogance of the top order.
Clearly, the DPP gover-nment is hell-bent on making sure that it is not business as usual and intends to do things different this time unlike in its first Bingu wa Mutharika administration when it rather employed a cavalier attitude towards those it thought were against it.
But I am afraid to say unless drastic actions are taken, there are still elements in police who think they have a right to brutalise innocent citizens in the name of maintaining law and order on the streets. These are under-mining the Peter Mutharika adminis-tration.
Yet cruelty should never be confused with maintaining order. These are two different things and I would have thought that with the billions that have been poured into police for many years by donors and the government in the name of reform, this distinction should have been more telling by now.
As for Blantyre City Council officials joining in the bandwagon of heartless police in whacking journalists and vendors, it can only be disappointing, especially now when the Town Hall is being led by youthful mayor Noel Chalamanda.
The mayor has said and done the right things so far. He has proposed initiatives and reforms that residents generally approve of.
We all want Blantyre to be a clean and safe city. But beating up women and journalists in the name of removing vendors from the streets to achieve a squeaky clean and safe city should not be part of the deal
The fact that one is a vendor does not mean he or she has abrogated his or her inalienable rights.
Yet city council officials confiscate basins of fritters and cooler boxes of drinks from poor residents trying to earn a honest living on the roadside and feed their families instead of stealing.
Can’t their removal be done differently? Do they have to be beaten and their drinks and fritters and other wares taken away from them? Isn’t this blatant abuse of poor defenseless people in the name of keeping Blantyre clean?
But it must stop. Brutality against harmless and defenceless citizens has no room in today’s Malawi.