…captured on CCTV
..MCP youth joined the operation
Malawi Police working with well known gang from Nsundwe suspected to be the Malawi Congress Party Youth League members on Tuesday raided two shops belonging to Rwandan nationals and stole over K250 million, The Investigator Magazine has the footage.
The Investigator Magazine has not contacted the Malawi Police Service for comment as its National Spokesperson does not respond to our queries and our evidence is enough to run the story.
As we uploaded the story, close friends of those arrested, reported to us they have since been released.
We have been able to identify one shop owner as Emmanuel Nsekanabo who Immigration sources have told us has valid papers but was arrested on Tuesday and hauled to Lingadzi Police Station in Lilongwe’s and his mum who was picked from another shop. The operation only focused on one shop.
The family that was attacked by the Malawi Police has been in Malawi for close to 29 years and are properly documented immigrants, and the Police staged what was initially thought was a kidnaping and robbery.
“They came in Police cars and two MCP vehicles. They ordered customers and shop owners out. Instead of locking the shop they produced bags which they started stuffing money from the shop. This was unreal, everywhere the operations have been going on they just close shops,” said an eyewitness on Tuesday evening.
“We thought it was robbery and kidnap”
Family members and workers at the scene described to The Investigator Magazine how the two shops were raided and that they thought for hours that the lady owner and her son had been kidnapped and robbed.
“We called Salima Police, they were not aware of any operation. For hours we thought they have been kidnapped and the shops have been robbed. The lady who is in her late 40’s was dragged from the shop without even a wrap (chitenje) and shoes,” said one of the workers.
The two shops support a number of warehouses and people pay at the shops and collect goods elsewhere. The workers estimated that at least K300 million in sales and said the Police timing was suspicious as weekly sales were about to be deposited and some used to pay for orders for goods.
The shops and warehouses employ at least 30 Malawians and the attack left everyone shocked. More people were shocked that it was Police who could stage such a thing.
“This lawless never seen or heard before. This operation was only for this shop. I travelled from Chia to order things, now I cant get my things, I have already paid my money which Police as you say have stolen. This country has become something under this Chakwera,” said an angry trader, we found at the shop.
The Investigator Magazine counted at least 16 shops run by foreign nationals around the same operating area, meaning the operation was staged to rob the specific shops to essentially rob the money.
The Police started with one shop before they invaded the second shop where they repeated their thieving act without realising that the shop had CCTV which captured one of the most embarrassing episodes in the history of policing in Malawi.
The CCTV which we have obtained shows Police in plain clothes arriving around 3.34pm at Nsekanabos shop which had four customers with some of them counting their money. Three people including Nsekanabo were behind the counter.
Five people in plain clothes are seen entering the shop, led by one in a camouflage cap and dark blue jacket who can be seen gesturing orders. One person who is carrying a black backpack immediately enters the shop selling area and orders the shop owners out of the area.
“They were shouting what are you doing you Rwandans and they chased people from the shop. They had bags ready. Whatever this was, was a robbery planned nothing about refugees or Police operation. It looks like MCP is using Police to rob these foreigners,” said another eyewitness who heard the Police shouts.
The CCTV review shows three alleged Police officers all go to the counter and immediately the one with the bag goes to where cash was being kept as if he already knew the whole floor plan for the shop.
The owner of the shop is pulled by hand out of the counter and escorted out of the shop by the officer who came in first and was wearing a brown jacket who is followed by the rest of the team leaving the one with the bag packing the cash.
Another officer dressed in blue shirt and a face mask lingers within the shop a bit before he is seen joining the officer who is now packing cash from a box below the counter into his black backpack.
A third person enters the shop wearing black t-shirt and blue jeans and he is seen scavenging through the shop and after emptying the box of cash, the two first ones exit the shop with two bags (0ne black and one white) filled with cash.
The whole episode lasts about three minutes.
“The question is what are the Police officers doing at the counter when they came to arrest someone on immigration charges? Why are they coming with MCP officials to a government operation?” asked an official we showed the footage.
On going Police robberies
A security analyst said this was a pre-planned operation and it means Police have been using the recent relocation of refugees to rob businesses owned by foreign nationals as the evidence was that such incidents were growing.
“Last week it was reported they did the same at Lumbadzi trading. God knows how many people are being victimised by the Police and MCP and being robbed this way. After they steal from refugees, what will stop them from robbing Malawian businesses,” questioned a security officer who retired from the service after 36 years.
Another senior official said a recent report that a refugee was arrested with K30 million cash was an eye opener of how refugees are being robbed after Homeland Ministry launched a crackdown on illegal refugees.
“What was declared was K30 million, but talking to the owners more than that was stolen. It is an ongoing harassment and robbery of foreign nationals by law enforcers. This needs to be contained. Its damaging the reputation of the country,” said another official.
Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma could not be reached on the latest debacle involving refugees which he has been championing relocation but has digressed to become a total mess.
“After spending millions of kwachas, most refugees’ businesses are back. Most of them had papers issued by the Ministry’s own Immigration department. Now we have something close to xenophobia and people fleecing the businesses. There is a need to stop this,” said an official from the Ministry.
In other areas Malawians have been seen welcoming back their foreign nationals and chasing authorities when they attempt to chase them.
The mess saw some senior Police officers arrested in Lilongwe when they attempted to receive cash from some refugees to release their containers being kept at Area 30 in Lilongwe.
“There was no plan. These people got containers with perishable goods like groundnuts, milk and others and kept them at Area 30. If people win cases against the arrest, billions of kwacha will be claimed from taxpayers for such a reckless policy. Nobody is refusing that refugees should relocate, but the mess is unbelievable,” charged one of the legal representatives of the refugees currently contesting their relocation in court.
The are about 60,000 refugees mainly from the Great Lakes region. Most of them have been in Malawi for over two decades and repatriation efforts are being done in piecemeal.