On Tuesday, the Malawi Police Service (MPS) celebrated 100 years of its existence since it came on the scene in 1921. That celebration did not come without some hilarity! That helicopter in a lorry demonstrates in its own way how low the service may have sank in recent times.
With 100 years in the bag, the police needed to look back at its history and see what has gone awry that public trust should diminish.
The other day, there were demonstrations organised by Bon Kalindo in Blantyre. Looking at the situation, how police were heavy handed, unleashing tear gas canisters on the people with reckless abandon. Crowd control is one area police needed to improve on.
Apparently, the best way to control crowds in the police training manual is the use of tear gas. The use of tear gas makes the crowd more rowdy. In the end, nasty scenes emanate. Taking the recent Blantyre affair as an example, the police unit in the CBD would not have been burnt down if the police used other means of controlling the crowds.
As police celebrated 100 years, thoughts lingered on how police brutality has tainted the image of the service. These 100 years has seen cases where police has done the nation more disservice.
We remember the little girl Epiphania Bonjesi who was shot dead by an officer on her khonde. We will live to remember the Chancellor College student Fanikiso Phiri who was killed by officers during demonstrations.
The idea to butcher Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa was hatched in some police office. Malawians remember how Evison Matafale was denied medical attention while in police custody, leading to his death 20 years ago.
In 1983, four Cabinet ministers and a member of Parliament were killed in Mwanza. History shows that it is officers of the law who planned and executed the killings.
Countless are the times we have heard of police brutality. In recent times, one officer was convicted for raping a Polytechnic student who was in their custody. Cases of police officers hiring out guns have been on the scene, just as have been cases of corruption and officers taking bribes.
Not so long ago, emanated the issue of a senior police officer abusing his office to sleep with female police officers in exchange for promotions. We still wait to see how all this will end.
One thing that you would find astonishing is the fact that when an officer breaks the law, they scarcely face its long arm. It is not far from the truth that once in uniform you gain a certain level of immunity. Where, for instance, are the officers who shot Bonjesi and Fanikiso?
It has always bogged the mind how far the police goes to root off nepotism. It is most likely that a son or daughter of an officer ends up being an officer as well. It may be a normal state of affairs but it has always struck me as queer.
Naturally, you would say I am a doomsayer for only bringing up the dark side of the service. There are a lot of areas where the service is ticking, but that is what they are employed to do.
It is apparent that the police will be kept busy for some time now. Kalindo has said it that from next week the demonstrations against the Tonse Alliance administration will be held every day.
We will talk about how Kalindo seems to be going overboard later. For now, we wonder how peace has failed to be achieved. It is wondrous that more days will have to be spent in the streets at a time the economy is in real bad shape.
And, by the way, is he going to explain who has been killing albinos. He said the other day the government can’t arrest him because he would reveal those involved in the dirty dealings. Why can’t he provide the information instead of using it as ransom to coerce the alliance to action?