Malawi faces security breakdown

…killings and violent crime on the rise

…Minister has no idea how to solve it

..DPP, UDF calls for urgent action

Every three days a Malawian is being murdered in bizarre circumstances, while house breaking, street attacks and livestock rustling has been reported in all cities and districts. Cases of citizens mob justice are being captured on social media.

Malawians now live in barricaded homes, no longer welcoming strangers as fear now reigns that government has lost control of security, with Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma failing to assure Malawians of measures being taken to address the spiralling out of control crime, instead he warned anyone talking of security breakdown that they will be hunted down.

The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) called for urgent government intervention on security breakdown saying Malawians are now living in fear of their lives and property.

Just like the economy, food security and foreign exchange, President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration seems blank on how to address the security breakdown, with Malawi Police Services leaders seemingly preoccupied with political related arrests, pardoning of criminals and dancing with criminals while morale among the service is at its lowest.

The Investigator Magazine can report that tribalism, cronyism, and underqualified officers are now in charge of various Police sections with their main qualification being relatives to the President or coming from Central Region.

Police officers we have spoken to claim morale is low and officers now work in fear of being transferred to small units in rural area if they cross a powerful tribal cartel that is running the Malawi Police Service.

Killings on the rise, so too attacks, house breaking

On Tuesday, 20th September, Malawians woke up to news of a dead body being discovered in a vehicle at Area 15 medium density neighbourhood of Lilongwe. He was later identified as Alan Wittika, a sales Manager at the country’s Coca-Cola beverages company, Police said they were on the case, hunting for murderers.

Five days earlier on 15th September, a student at the Malawi College of Accountancy identified Shaibu Ali Dulani, lost his life after teen age robbers hit him with a stone to steal his laptop.

Two days before Dulanis death, a clerical officer at Parliament identified as Micheal Mphatso Thomu received a call on 13th September and he went out around 11pm and never returned home. His dead body was found near Lilongwe River bridge along Kamuzu Institute for Youth Road.

Five days before Thomu’s untimely death, a Police officer from Ndirande identified as Sub Inspector Boniface Kamundayayi was attacked and later died at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.

Blantyre Police seem to be on top of investigations, as suspects in the two cases in the city were nabbed within three or four days of the murders.

In Lilongwe, National Police Headquarters on Monday said in a statement it was close to breaking the two vehicle cases as panic, fear and anxiety hit the capital residents after two vehicle murders occurred within a space of five days and another student from Lilongwe was killed in Ntchisi.

Reserve Bank of Malawi employee Agness Katengeza was discovered in her car boot after she went missing on Saturday 23rd September 2023. CCTV footage from nearby warehouses in Area 47 show four men dumped the car in the evening around 18.23.

Hours before it was reported that Katengeza was missing, Jacob Msokera a graduate of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources was reported to have gone missing whilst visiting his parents in Ntchisi. His body was found in a well next to his parent’s house with a huge stone placed on top. Some reports indicate that his stepmother and a brother are in Police custody.

As people were still processing the Katengeza murder, pictures of a bloody CP Feed vehicle which had been attacked by robbers in daylight emerged and the driver was injured. It transpired later that the driver survived the attack.

Reports of killings have been reported in Mzimba, Nsanje and Thyolo, while Area 18, Area 25, Area 23 tank area and streets of Blantyre and Lilongwe have reported a surge in petty theft, knife attacks and robberies and house breaking.

Shopping malls and parking areas across Lilongwe and Blantyre are now heaven for thieves who coordinate to break into vehicles and steal valuables in broad day light, even at Lilongwe Gateway Mall where there is a Police unit.

Kwacha area in Soche Blantyre, Limbe CBD, MUBAS/MCA footpath to Chitawira, QECH to Naperi footpath, Chikwawa Hills before Thabwa and Lilongwe’s Crossroads/Mbowe area, Presidential Way are now among the most dangerous areas, as attacks happen at any given time.

“We only patrol those areas when we get reports, there is nothing planned to station officers on these dangerous routes. We just tell people to be careful,” said a senior CID officer in Lilongwe who said a proposal to have plain clothed officers patrol the flagged areas was shot down by senior officials.

“They would rather put an officer every 500 metres from Blantyre to Lilongwe to watch the President drive by than protecting Malawians. People are being attacked at shopping malls in broad day light,” said an angry relative of one of the killed persons.

Low morale in Police Service

Police officers claim that promotions and opportunities in the service since 2020 have changed drastically with officers from the Southern Region being branded “DPP cadets” and most were moved from the Area 30 headquarters to rural stations.

“The Inspector General is a mere figure head, so too the two deputies. The real boss at Area 30 openly says the President only listens to him he is his relative. It is a fact they come from neighbouring villages, the President if he cares at all about his image needs to move this man from Area 30,” said officers spoken to at different times.

The Inspector General is a mere figure head, so too the two deputies.

The senior official at Commissioner grade is said to have stuffed all departments with people from “home” and his right-hand men include senior CID officials and Central Region Police senior officers he single handedly promoted.

“There are always partisan officers in Police, even during DPP, UDF and first MCP, then you have a lot of professional officers. All departments from CID, Traffic, Buildings and even Prosecutions has been politicised. What you have now is a political Police that most officers just go to work to do their own things,” charged another officer.

He said morale among officers was at its lowest and the focus of operations has significantly shifted to political programmes than providing public safety.

“We now do two things, either collect money or monitor political related things. Criminal sections have no resources even new cars are all shared among the top brass. Promotions and opportunities now depend on where you come from not competence,” said a Police officer who joined the MPS in 1995.

Professional or Ritual killings

Social media has been awash linking the vehicle killings in Lilongwe to either contract killers or ritualistic murderers as in both cases the victims were successful professionals, and nothing seemed to have been stolen from them.

“That is very worrisome, especially as we approach elections very strange things happen. Last time it was albinos. Politicians lied to us that they never die but just disappeared. Thanks to democracy we now know. The reaction of this government is shocking,” says Bon Kalindo, a government critic who supports the theories.

The Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) aired over the weekend a report which claimed street kids were being given cash boxes by politicians to collect money which is taken for rituals to make them popular as they prepare for the 2025 elections.

Wittika according to his friends was on his way to the United States of America after his visa was granted while Katengeza, called a tech giant in banking systems was said to have been selling various products.

A man was said to have been seen alighting from Wittikas official Isuzu double cabin, while CCTV footage shows four young men passing from the direction where the vehicle had been dumped 7 minutes after it had passed by the cameras.

Wittika is thought to have been killed between 6am and 7am as he had cuts to his head while Katengeza is said to have been dumped in her car boot and the time shows she could have been dead or killed between 6pm and 6.30 or earlier before the car was brought in.

An audio made by unknown persons mentions politicians and religious figures as being behind rampant killings across the country.

Criminal syndicates, including pardons

The Investigator Magazine found that criminal syndicates and newly pardoned criminals were working with some Police officers as it has been easy to secure pardons for most serving long sentence.

We have evidence that criminals are either allowed to escape or get pardoned through corruption and this has led to hardcore criminals, some serving long sentences to come out early.

“Hardened criminals are being pardoned after learning how easy it is to secure a pardon with the current Police system. In other cases, even courts are involved,” alleged our source.

Another source pointed out at recent pardons based on university selections as being bogus saying one of those pardoned was serving an 8-year sentence and his family is closer to the Police top brass.

“One of those pardoned by President Chakwera caused a collapse of a K500 million project funded by USAID. He did fraud at MACRO and Norwegian ChurchAid, the exams were just a loophole to fool donors,” charged our source. We have withheld the identity of the fraudster as we investigate the matter.

No strategy from Zikhale only accusations

Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma did not offer any hope to ease fears among Malawians but planted new fear telling them to “shut up or be hunted down.”

He ranted that people commenting on the killings wanted to bring the government down and that anyone calling it a national security breakdown should be visited by the Police.

“Three murders out of 20 million people cannot be said to be national security breakdown.  Where people commit crime that is why have Police to settle such crimes,” said Zikhale.

Three murders out of 20 million people cannot be said to be national security breakdown – Zikhale

Kalindo picked up the challenge asking Zikhale to order Police to arrest him.

UDF Publicity Secretary Yusuf Mwawa said Malawi is experiencing security lapse, asking both Government and the citizenry to take action to turn the tide.

“The UDF calls on the Malawi Government to seriously enhance security measures that will protect life and property of our citizens. We demand a swift security analysis and audit, as to what has suddenly perpetuated such murders, and rampant theft, and a solution be provided forthwith,” said Mwawa

On his part, DPP Publicity Secretary Shadrec Namalomba said under the Tonse Alliance administration, the country has witnessed an increase in cases of armed robberies, carjackings, break-ins, and politically motivated violence.

Let the government solve this problem as soon as possible – Namalomba

He said there is corruption in state security apparatus which has collapsed the institutions, accusing President Chakwera and the MCP administration of having no interest to solve the country’s challenges.

“We demand the responsible individuals be brought to justice without any selection,” charged Namalomba.

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