On a cold morning on December 1 2020, Davie Chingwalu stood before cops to make his last address as a police officer.
The retiring Thyolo Police Station officer-in-charge spoke in carefully measured tones.
“Where there is an entrance, there must be an exit,” said Chingwalu.
The words typified a colossal figure. A giant of a man.
At 54, Chingwalu has hang up his handcuffs and turned in his badge and gun after serving the Malawi Police Service for 29 years.
The trained journalist joined Malawi Police Service in 1991. He admits that the police job was at his heart.
Says Chingwalu: “Prior to this job, I had applied for four other jobs where I was successful. However, I jumped at the police offer because, to me, it was like a calling.
“Our squad comprised 31 recruits and I was the best recruit. This simply tells you that I loved the job. All I wanted was to serve my country to bring law and order.”
His first post was at Zomba Police Station where he served the old capital for nine years as a junior officer.
In between, Chingwalu says he was studying for a journalism and public relations qualification at The Polytechnic, consituent college of the University of Malawi.
Come the year 2000, his academic exploits saw him being appointed public relations officer at the National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe where he assisted then National Police spokesperson Oliver Soko.
After a six-year stint in Lilongwe, in 2007 Chingwalu was promoted to become Southern Region Police Headquarters spokesperson, a position he served for four years before hitting what he describes as the “biggest turning point” in his career.
“In 2011, I returned to Lilongwe to become the National Police spokesperson,” he says.
For Chingwalu, this is a legacy.
“It was the greatest moment. I always made sure that people had informed choices.
“I also ensured that people were advised in good time on issues of security. Besides, I also used to ask citizens what they expected from their police,” he says.
This, undoubtedly, won him praise from the public.
Says Chingwalu: “Even the then president invited me over to State House for a cup of tea to encourage me on the initiatives I was undertaking in building a good public relations for the police.”
But as the saying goes, good people do not live long, so did it happen with Chingwalu, who, in 2012, at the pinnacle of his career in public relations, was transferred to Zomba Police Station where he became second in command.
However, to him, this was a historic moment. He was going to Zomba for the second time in his police career, but now in an authoritative uniform.
Chingwalu served in his new office for four years before he was moved to Chikwawa in 2016 as an officer-in-charge, a post he held up to his retirement.
He says: “In Chikwawa, I had a good relationship with chiefs. They could even call me in the middle of the night to respond to their emergency situations and I could accompany my officers right to the scene.”
Maseya Community Policing Forum in Chikwawa deputy chairperson Stanley Mangochi agrees with Chingwalu.
“He [Chingwalu] was always dedicated and devoted. And he never held any grudge when we asked for police assistance during odd hours.
“He could rush and assist us in apprehending criminals, especially cattle rustlers who are common here in Chikwawa,” he says.
When Chingwalu moved to Thyolo in November 2019, he imprinted himself in the souls of both chiefs and their subjects as well.
In fact, he became a household name, thanks to his sheer dedication.
Senior Chief Nchilamwera of Thyolo says, despite having Chingwalu for just a year, traditional leaders and communities noted his humility.
“He is very humble and dedicated to his job. He always placed us chiefs and the community in his heart. We will greatly miss such a selfless man. We wish him all the best in his next course in life,” says the traditional leader.
On his next chapter, Chingwalu is elusive. However, he is likely going to write short stories which he wants to compile into an anthology. This follows his election as Malawi Writers Union vice-president last month.
However, he is retiring with one lamentation and that is political interference in the work of police.
Chingwalu says: “Political interference is one thing that dents the police record. It derails police’s job. I wish the current government could walk the talk and absolve itself from the ghosts of politics.
“As I go to my retirement, I dream of a police service that is practically independent and I hope the current administration will achieve that.”