Inspector General (IG) of Police Lexten Kachama has described the just-ended year as a mixed bag where general crime rate has significantly reduced yet there is also a five percent increase in defilement cases.
Speaking during end-of-year police celebrations at Area 30 Police Headquarters in Lilongwe on Sunday, Kachama said the development calls for more efforts for the safety of the girl child.
According to Kachama, crime in general based on reported cases declined from 51 421 in 2016 to 43 158 in 2017, which is a difference 8 262, representing a 16 percent decrease.
The Police IG also boasted of the reduction in road accidents by 37 percent, adding that all these are fruits of hard work among police officers in all police establishments nationwide.
“There was generally a reduction in almost all categories of crime such as murder, robbery, break ins, rape and theft of motor vehicles in the past year. The reduction of violent crimes has been achieved because of collective efforts rendered by all players in the criminal justice system, including members of the public,” said Kachama.
While the police can afford to celebrate their achievements in the just-ende year, the police chief said the increase in defilement cases is a cause for concern.
He said: “While we are celebrating success in the reduction of violent crimes, it is sad to note the increase in defilement cases. I, therefore, appeal to all of us to strengthen our efforts to ensure that the girl child remains safe and protected.”
But in a separate interview, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera attributed the increase in defilement to cultural practices and beliefs and not necessarily a problem of law and order.
Kadadzera said even after government raised the legal marriage age from 16 to 18, there is need for increased awareness to have people understand the need to protect the girl-child.
Meanwhile, the police have also bemoaned an upsurge in mob justice, especially where people damage police property in case of misunderstandings, saying this was another setback in the past year.
Kachama cited the torching of the police armoured vehicle (Nyala) at Kaphiri in Lilongwe, Chirimba Police Unit in Blantyre which was burnt by an angry mob and students of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) who also destroyed property during demonstrations.
Kachama also mentioned the Bingu National Stadium stampede which claimed eight lives during Independence Day celebrations as another regrettable event in 2017.
The Area 30 end of year party has become a tradition in recent years as an event where the police take stock of the just-ended year.