Inspector General of Police (IG) George Kainja has expressed regret that officers in the Malawi Police Service (MPS) lost public trust as law enforcers because they indulged in unprofessional acts like criminality and selective justice.
He declared that under his leadership, every officer will be required to strictly adhere to the rule of law, professionalism and to handle the citizenry humanely, in reforms that should regain public trust for the MPS.
Kainja was speaking in an interview at his Area 30 MPS headquarters in Lilongwe yesterday after holding a closed-door meeting with representatives of the quassi-religious Public Affairs Committee (PAC) on how best the police can rebuild its image.
He said to the PAC delegation he confessed that after it enjoyed much public trust for decades, because of professional conduct as a law enforcer, the MPS drastically lowered its standards to the extent that some officials indulged in criminal acts and practised selective justice by shielding criminals.
“We were unprofessional in our approach in a quite a number of ways. Maybe our investigations were not good enough. Maybe our traffic work on the road was not good enough.
“There were issues of corruption that people talked about.There were issues of brutal policing that people were talking about, such as the Msundwe case and other cases,” said Kainja, the former matter being that whereby some officers raped women and girls last year.
The IG stated that moving forward, all officers will be accountable for their actions, stressing that errant officers will be prosecuted because gone are the days when police officers treat members of the public and suspects.
He said the current reforms in the MPS will be informed by suggestions from key stakeholders like PAC, who are encouraged to continually provide information and cooperation to enhance optimum security for all citizens.
“We are determined to rebuild our image. We want to be seen as the people’s police. We would want to be seen to be working with all law-abiding members of the public out there,” said Kainja.
PAC chairperson Monsignor Patrick Thawale said a better and a people-centred police is possible. He called on the MPS to ensure that it upholds the law and that no one is treated differently from others.
“Since we are a grouping of several religious groups and the people we serve are the same that the police serves, we will reach them and sensitise them to the need to work hand in hand with the police, in order to promote security in the country and have a better Malawi for everyone,” he added.
Most people note that the MPS has been used as a tool for parties in government to mete out physical and mental punishment on people deemed to hold opposing views to the authorities. In some cases, party zealots were allegedly recruited in the MPS and these carried out criminal acts with impunity, much to the shock and helplessness of ordinary Malawians.