“I was detained, in jail for 7 days for no reason,” said Comfort Chitseko, who was arrested by Malawi police in October for allegedly conducting demonstration without authority consent and seditious act (according to Malawi 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,” he said.
During the time of Comfort’s arrest, the country was in chaos. The July 2011 protests caused tension across the nation.
Comfort now awaits a court hearing for the false accusations. He is not the only one who has experienced the flagrant abuse of power by the police.
“Time and time we experience that the society is saying that we mishandle suspects,” says Commissioner Nelson Bophani from Malawi’s Police Service in Lilongwe’s central region.
Since the infamous July 20, 2011, protests, the Malawi Police Service has yet to recover from their unjust and violent reputation.
Many police authorities recognize Malawians’ criticisms of police’s arbitrary arrest and even brutality. The Police Service understands that kindling a relationship with the public is what the nation needs.
“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 Police Service. “We are respecting human rights and the rule of law,” she said.
Many changes have been made in government administration since the leadership of Honorable Joyce Banda, including the replacement of the Inspector-General of the Malawi Police 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 Police Service.
“It is the desire of the inspector-general that we change the image of the Police Service,” said Commissioner Bophani. “His intention is to do it by imparting skills to all investigators and prosecutors.”
Commissioner Bophani stated the Inspector-General believes that implementing a course in Investigative Interviewing Skills may also help reduce police violations.
“The Police Service needs to avoid using torture and violence – instead we should use our skills. It’s what Malawi needs.”