It has been reported in the media that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Titus Mvalo SC is urging the law enforcement agencies to change the current approach of Vala Mask Operation when enforcing Covid-19 preventive measures in the country for people to adhere to wearing face masks.
Reports are that police officers have been ambushing the citizens in markets, trading centres, towns and cities arresting those found loitering around without wearing face masks by beating and whipping them and this has forced some vendors organize themselves chasing police officers with bricks and stones leaving police officers with no option but to fire teargas to disperse the angry crowds.
Many people are nursing wounds due to running for cover in fear of being arrested by police making the citizens wondering that is this Malawi wokomela tonse where police officers be beating and whipping people arrested without wearing face masks as enforcement measures to adherence to Covid-19?
Hon. Mvalo SC suggested that instead of the law enforcers using force, they must intensify community engagements as seen by some police officers moving in their vehicles sensitizing communities on the importance of wearing face masks in a bid to prevent the further spread of the pandemic in the country.
The Minister also suggested that offenders should not be kept in police cells but sent on community services to prevent congestion which will further lead to the spread of the pandemic.
A Malawi Congress Party [MCP] diehard of Dowa Mr. Rodgers Kamphangala has backed Minister of Justice’s decision of urging the law enforcement agencies to change the way they are enforcing Covid-19 measures for people to adhere to always wearing face masks in public places.
Kamphangala said there are some police officers within the police officers who have ill-motive behind of provoking the citizens so that they rise against the Tonse Alliance Government as if it ordered the law enforcers to go on to a campaign of enforcing wearing masks through whipping and beating of innocent of people in the name of Covid-19 preventions.
He said these law enforcers are destroying the good image of the Tonse Alliance Government particularly that of President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera that he is taking Malawi to a dictatorship of creating a police state where people have to live in fear of police reminding the law enforcers that from 1994, Malawi is not a police state.
The diehard MCP supporter expressed fears that with the reports of vendors chasing police officers enforcing Covid-19 measures using stones and bricks if it escalates to some districts in Malawi, there will be civil unrest against police officers who residing in the communities hence police officers to change the way they are enforcing Covid-19 measures.
“…We are living in a new Malawi, police is a service to the people and not force, we don’t want some good officers living in the communities to be targeted for the sins committed by fellow law enforcers who have ill-intentions against the Government of President Dr. Chakwera to fall down for their own ousted DPP to come back in power through the back door…,’’ said Kamphangala.
He said it is sad to see the arrested people without wearing face masks packed in police Land Cruisers as bags of maize in the name of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions as if they are enforcing animals to go back to the Kraal saying this is conduct by police should be stopped forthwith, Malawians depend on hand to mouth toiling for money and food, let them be enforced to wearing face masks and not beatings.
Kamphangala said most of Malawians have no money due to companies closing down, businesses not moving and have no money to pay in courts and arresting them will only add misery to the lives and that of their family members, asking Government to increase awareness messages through radios and other medias for people to always wearing face masks saying arresting people will not take the country to nowhere as nobody knows when the pandemic will go.
By Vincent Gunde