Elizabeth Matandika broke the Malawi Prison Services’ (MPS) institutional record to become the first female to head the transport and logistics office.
A transport and logistics officer allocates work to drivers, prepares transport movements, ensures all vehicles are timely and properly maintained, inspects vehicles, ensures that all drivers and operators in the prison formations nationwide have the right qualifications.
Matandika joined MPS in April 2001 at the age of 18 as a recruit.
She underwent a yearlong rigorous training at the Prisons Staff Training School in Blantyre to become a fully-fledged attested officer.
Over the years, she has risen through the ranks as she was promoted to that of sergeant in 2012. And in 2014, she became a gaoler — a person in charge of a jail and prisoners.
In 2018, Matandika, who likes making new friends, became one of the gazetted officers when she reached the rank of inspector.
Realising the importance of continuous professional development, she enrolled with the Malawi Development Centre (MDC) — under then The Polytechnic (now Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences) and attained an advanced diploma in logistics and transport.
However, growing up, her dream was to become a nurse.
“I was attracted to nursing when my mother fell ill and was admitted to Dowa District Hospital. I was touched by the care the nurses showed her, which gave me the desire to do the same for others,” explains the former chairperson of National Women Boxing.
But her dream of becoming a nurse died as she did not do well in science subjects during the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE).
“I don’t regret working with the police because I am able to perform just like men do. Some people think only men can work in security institutions because of the nature of the job as it demands more energy and stamina. As a proud prison officer, I quash that perception because I am an example and we also have a good number of female officers in MPS,” she says.
Her love for sports also saw her refereeing football and she holds a grade one football referee certificate.
She is also a member of sports taskforce for security organisations.
Still, there are some challenges she faces as a woman working in the prison service; one being the perception that male officers have towards their female counterparts as a weaker gender.
But now that she is a gazetted officer, she encourages her fellow officers to work hard, respect everyone and uphold team-spirit.
Also, Matandika urges them to further their education, have wider knowledge and skills as well as to put God first.
The mother of two was born on January 25 1983 in Ndirande Township, Blantyre.