Friday, August 14, 2009

"Get lost...I repeat, get lost"

I was going through some old newspapers yesterday and I came across an article in the Malawi News of 14th February 2009. Of course there were alot of valentine messages and pictures of lovebirds. But what caught my eye was a letter from a reader written in chichewa, Malawi's main local language.
The reader was complaining about the conduct of a police officer around Ntaja in Machinga district. The writer alleged that after being arrested the cop started marching him towards a police station in the vicinity. Along the way the law enforcer reporterdly found money amounting to 12-thousand Kwacha or so in the man's pockets. It is claimed the policeman started threatening the man with a gun and then started saying 'Yendera yako' in other words: "Get lost". The complainant said the cop repeated the words and then ran away. He also said after reporting the matter to the 'culprit's' fellow officers, the man was promised that the money would be returned, a thing that never happened. Quite interesting!
If this indeed happened then there is still some way before the police reform programme that has been there for years (or did it wind up?) will show tangible fruit. I'm saying this because earlier this week the Daily Times wrote that police officials had harassed its reporters because they were taking pictures of a demolition exercise of illegal market stalls in Blantyre. Not long ago the Nation also said the police had forced its photo-journalist to delete pictures he took regarding a wrangle between passengers of an international bus company and operators of the vehicle.
The question remains whose interest are the law enforcers supposed to serve? Or in the case of the Machinga saga, who should be running away from who between a detained person and a policeman?


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