Blantyre - Notoriously known for their involvement in corruption and serious crimes such as armed robberies, the police service in Malawi is struggling to recover from its battered image.
The arrest of two police officers who were serving as presidential guards at a state lodge in northern Malawi’s city of Mzuzu at the weekend for their alleged participation in armed robberies has just worsened the already-messy image.
In most cases, presidential guards are paramilitary police officers who are carefully selected for their intelligence prowess, professional skills and integrity to guard the president and state houses, but the arrest of the two tells a different story.
Police spokesperson in northern Malawi, Peter Kalaya confirmed the arrest of the two Presidential guards at the weekend.
"As it is at the moment, I can only confirm that we have arrested two police officers after they were mentioned by suspected robbers we arrested on Friday. Of course, as the police, we will make sure that the law takes its course and will not shield anyone," he said.
The arrested presidential guards, currently in detention, are Wyck Njolomole and Misheck Makweza.
"Few rotten apples"
Reacting to the news, Malawi’s police chief Lexten Kachama told News24 that there are few rotten apples that have been denting the image of the entire police service and they are being purged out.
"With such arrests, we are assured that the rotten apples within the service will be dealt with accordingly," he said.
Kachama said it was a pity that some officers were involved in serious organised crime, including armed robberies, car hijackings, break-ins, corruption and even drug trafficking instead of fighting criminal activities.
Over the past few years several police officers in Malawi have been arrested or implicated in armed robberies.
Last year, 15 members of the police were convicted while 70 others were interdicted pending investigations into criminal cases.
Some analysts attribute police involvement in criminal activities to low wages amongst most junior members.
Some of the notable cases where some officers were allegedly involved included a robbery where over $700 000 or 500 million Malawi kwacha was stolen at a Standard Bank branch in Mzuzu.
The robbers abducted the bank manager from his house at night and persuaded him at gunpoint to open the bank. In the arrests that followed, 38-year-old police officer Ken Kamwambi was netted in connection with the robbery.
In another incident, another officer Kondwani Mitepa, was also arrested for alleged involvement in a robbery where First Merchant Bank in Blantyre was robbed. Other officers were arrested for robbery at a casino in Blantyre.
These are just few robberies of the many cases that the cops were arrested over their alleged involvement.
The expulsion of 400 candidates who reported for training at its various police colleges this month has highlighted the problem of corruption within the Malawi police service even during recruitment.
The police service has kicked out over 400 candidates who used the backdoor to register for training without attending interviews after the local media highlighted the mess in the recruitment process.
National Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa on Thursday confirmed the expulsion of some constable recruits from three police training campuses.
“I can confirm is that over 400 recruits have been sent back for failing to meet various requirements and we have settled for almost 1435 recruits in all the three camps,” he told a local daily, The Nation.
While the police claim that there only few apples that dent the service’s image, Transparency International ranked the police service as Malawi’s most corrupt institution in 2013.
Just last week Amnesty International observed that systematic police failure is contributing to continued killings of people with albinism in Malawi.