Some Karonga residents clashed with police at Rukuru Roadblock along the Karonga-Songwe Road in northern Malawi on Saturday after they accused the officers of corruptly allowing trucks with maize to pass through to Tanzania.
The residents reportedly overpowered the officers and took over the roadblocks.
Police in Karonga confirmed the incident and said 14 villagers have since been arrested in connection with the matter.
A resident, who asked for anonymity, on Sunday accused the police of taking bribes to allow trucks of maize to pass through.
He claimed the residents were secretly monitoring what was taking place at the roadblock and that they witnessed many corrupt activities.
Alleged the resident: “On this particular day, we saw a truck full of maize packed a few metres away from the roadblock. The driver came out to meet the police officers at the roadblock and, after discussion, it was allowed to pass, but we immediately blocked it.”
The resident said after an ensuing clash, the police officers abandoned the post.
“So, what we did was to manage the roadblock and make another one. We managed to stop three trucks,” claimed the source.
But the police regrouped and chased the residents, according to another eyewitness.
Karonga Police Station officer William Kadzayekha said they have arrested some villagers and that investigations into the matter are underway.
“We arrested 14 people, 13 are men and one is a female. They accused police of corruption and mounted their own roadblocks, which is illegal,” said Kadzayekha.
Paramount Chief Kyungu, who has been vocal against maize smuggling and recently asked government to deploy Malawi Defence Force (MDF) officers, condemned the villagers’ action.
But Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Karonga district coordinator Gracian Mbewe accused the police of being heavy-handed.
“The President has been talking about food shortages and even urged police to stop maize smuggling. Police are not helping and the villagers decided to do it themselves,” he said.