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08/04/2012

Revamping the Malawi police force

Comfort Chitseko
Comfort Chitseko on the front page of the BNL Times (Malawi newspaper) in October 2011. He was accused of being an activist.  Photo by: Comfort Chitseko.

By Kara Stevenson

"I was detained, in jail for seven days for no reason,” says Comfort Chitseko, who was arrested by Malawi police in October for allegedly conducting "demonstration without authority consent and seditious act", according to police.

“I was having lunch with my cousin before I was arrested. They put me in the local jail cell and then they eventually transferred me to Maula Prison. I did absolutely nothing wrong."

During the time of Chitseko’s arrest, the country was in chaos. The July 2011 protests caused tension across the nation.

Chitseko now awaits a court hearing for the accusations.

“Time and time we experience that the society is saying that we mishandle suspects,” says Commissioner Nelson Bophani for Malawi’s police service in Lilongwe’s central region.

Since the 2011 protests, the force has yet to recover from their violent reputation.

Many police authorities recognize Malawians' criticisms of the force's arbitrary arrests and alleged brutality.

“The public is expecting a lot from us,” said Detective Lucy Mkute from Kanengo Police Service. 

She feels that changes are already being made within the force.

Many changes have been made in government administration since the leadership of Joyce Banda, including the replacement of the inspector-general of the service.

Since being appointed, the new Inspector-General, Commissioner Loti Dzonzi has initiated an "Investigative Interviewing Skills" workshop for all investigators and prosecutors in the service.

“It is the desire of the inspector-general that we change the image of the police service,” said Bophani. “His intention is to do it by imparting skills to all investigators and prosecutors.

“The police service needs to avoid using torture and violence...instead we should use our skills. It’s what Malawi needs.”

There's so much more to Africa than predictable headlines about war, famine and AIDS. From Ghanaian beauty pageants to music in Malawi, Africa Without Maps provides a rare glimpse of life in Africa from Journalists for Human Rights interns on the ground.

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Africa Without Maps


  • There's so much more to Africa than predictable headlines about war, famine and AIDS. From Ghanaian beauty pageants to music in Malawi, Africa Without Maps provides a rare glimpse of life in Africa from Journalists for Human Rights interns on the ground.

    Funding for the jhr bloggers is provided by the Government of Canada's Youth International Internship Program.

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