Malawi Police Service in Lilongwe is on rampage in Lilongwe breaking into shops, bars and even saloons on the pretext of enforcing Covid-19 restrictions and taking away billions of kwacha items as angry owners have promised to personally sue President Lazarus Chakwera, Home Affairs Minister Richard Chimwendo and Inspector General of Police George Kainja.
Since the new Covid-19 rules came into force, Malawi Police officers were demanding bribes and asking the bar owners to extend their time from official 8pm while they drunk free beer. Bar owners have refused to break the law and now comply to the 8pm lockdown.
Police are said to be targeting populous areas and so far breakages after lockdowns have been reported in Biwi, Area 36, Kauma, Kaliyeka, Area 50, 25 and volatile Area 23.
“Biwi has been their targets. On Monday bar owners were called by their guards that Police were chasing them from the premises and breaking into the bars. Those broken into included Culture Club and Kalino where they were caught on CCTV cameras searching cash drawers and stealing alcohol,” said Chair of Bar owners at Biwi.
Two bar tenders who went to report at Kawale Police about the night break ins at Biwi were arrested and threatened by the Malawi Police Service.
On Tuesday night, several shop owners including groceries who had closed well before 7pm as it was raining also reported that their workers called them that Police were breaking into shops and stealing things.
A total of 23 shops have been looted by law enforcers and complaints were made directly to the Regional Commissioner for the Centre, Inspector General of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs.
“After we reported to them, the situation has worsened. In Area 50 they went to steal from a Burundi shop and took cash and groceries. It was shocking, they were challenging nothing will happen to them,” said an eyewitness who took photos of the officers in action.
One of the bar owners said they are engaging lawyers to sue the President, the Minister and the Inspectors General of Police in their individual capacity as they have shown to be in support of their Police breaking economic and social rights of Malawians willy nilly.
“People were shot by Police in cold blood, nothing happened to the officers. We have been complaining about abuse by Traffic Officers nothing has changed. Now they are sending thieves in uniform to harass and steal from innocent hard working Malawians who are trying to earn a decent living. We hold them personally liable, as long as they keep smiling and keep quiet to us they are complicit to these thieves. For Mr. Kainja, he has been a disgrace to MPS, he is the worst ever Inspector General, Parliament should fire him since the President has shown to be incapable of making any decision,” she said.
One of the lawyers for the group said they will be seeking billions of kwachas in compensation and that they hope the Court will order confiscation of assets of the President, Minister and IG for them to feel what the small scale businesspeople are feeling.
“Police with the blessing and command of the three are terrorizing Malawians who have not lost their properties. The Commander In Chief, the Minister responsible and the Inspector General must equally lose their properties to compensate those injured by this kind of brutality,” he said.
It is yet to be seen if Chimwendo and Kainja will move to discipline the rioting Police in Lilongwe.