Of nurturing criminals: ‘11 Bongos’ gang in Malawi

 “I was brutally beaten up by a group of young men who thronged my house some minutes after 6 in the evening. I shouted for help to no avail,” recounts Giveness Lazoni Msumali.

It was in February 2014. She suffered a ruthless beating at her house. The group of about 21 youngmen came looking for Richard Masitala, son to Msumali, who was not at home then. People heard her cry, but no one came to her rescue.

The following morning Richard found himself in the rough hands of the same group right at Kandikole Market. He was severely bludgeoned and sympathizers carried him to his mother’s house. He nursed his wounds while seeing the assailants up and about.

On March 30, 2014, Msumali a resident of Area 36, a location at the hub of Lilongwe City, joyfully went out for her usual daily business at Bwalo la Njobvu to sell her merchandise. Unknown to her the day’s sunset was the last for her son.

“I will weep for my boy for all my life. I think like it’s just a dream, it is an experience I’ll remember till my grave. My son died on March 30, 2014 and will clock one solid year in grave while the assailants are left scot free…,” recounted Msumali as she broke into tears.

“The boy was my only hope. This sad incident happened at a time he was about to leave Malawi for South Africa to hunt for greener pastures. He died with his passport just three days in his hand,” she narrated, tears dripping her cheeks.

The beating unto death locals say was a rivalry gang battle.

Lilongwe police records show that the Area 36 has ‘11 Bongos’ ‘Soft boys’, ‘Ghettos’,  ‘Bad boys’ and ‘Seka unye’ ‘Zikwanje Boys’ ‘Madala Crew’, Soweto crew, ‘Pink girls’ among others.

Why was he be so mercilessly beaten to death? Witnesses said he was a ‘Soft Boy’ and was killed by‘11 Bongos’.

Sharing margins with areas 22 and Falls Estate 1 which are comparatively tranquil; Area 36 according to the police reports is believed to be territory for over ten gangs. The area had recently proved more hostile as these mobsters caused daily assaults, pick pocketing and beatings in broad day light.

While Msumali still mourns, some people are suffering in silence, but the Police stretched law’s long hand to get the notorious gang masters a thing the law enforcers described as ‘uprooting the criminal from its base’, and “Amon the ‘11 Bongos’ leader was recently apprehended.

According to police publicist for Lilongwe, Kingsley Dandaula, the arrest of Amoni has exposed him one of the hard core criminals in Lilongwe and records revealed that he had been nabbed several times before on numerous offences and had indeed served a handful of custodial punishments with some of his sentences escaped un finished.

But Msumali still wept saying arrests of afew individuals would have little impact as the leader had planted more youngsters who were still terrorizing people.

“No changes at all, gang followers are still breaching people’s peace. Unfortunately, some leaders seem to be nurturing these gangs because some have them in their own chieftaincy homes. All people and village heads should sincerely hold hands if police is to win this fight and if area 36 is to enjoy peace,” she added.

Msumali who hails from Nyanga village, Traditional Authority Kaphuka in Dedza further lamented that the harassers and suspected murderers of their son were seen in the location walking scot free.

“Why is there no arrest or feedback from police? Justice is folding and it pains me seeing the murder suspects of my boy free. The squad that came at my home beating me up and baying for my late boy’s blood still cause havoc,” she said wiping tears with her headgear cloth.

But Lilongwe Police Publicist Kingsley Dandaula said police were amking headway citing the arrest of ‘Amoni’ who hails from Kaondo village, Senior Traditional Authority Tsabango.

However, Dandaula concurred with Msumali saying, “Some village heads are shielding these gangs.  We understand some are related to the village heads.

Said he, “Nonetheless, police is assuring people that the situation will change soon.”

Witnesses say the terror is not limited to homes as people in markets meet the same. Most at risk are illegal markets where they collect market fees.

It started immediately their leader was nabbed, another assumed command and re-organised and was in the interim collecting market fees at the illegal St. Johns market, and the boys claimed their activities were graced by the Msamba Parish which the church denied.

The Church Clerk Tresford Mvula Speaking for Msamba Parish Roman Catholic under Lilongwe Diocese confirmed the presence of the gangs in the illegal market that was close to the parish.

“Boys were indeed bothering people at the market. Firstly they used church’s name that it had sent them to collect the market fees so that proceeds are equally shared between us. It a cooked story,” Mvula said.

“Chiefs of this area are aware of these deviant crews. Why do they sink heads in the sand? The church is concerned with the problems these boys are causing. They are known by everyone and some are tired of reporting them to police believing that less is being done to halt their barbaric acts, ” he said adding ‘11 bongos’ crew was spoiling church’s image.

But the second in command has also been nabbed and it brings a flicker of hope to many. Police say he is charged with murder. But previous reports also indicated that he killed his first wife.

“We are still investigating on the issues linking to the death of his first wife,” says Dandaula confirming that, the battles between the ‘Soft Boys’ crew and ‘11 Bongos’ cost the life of Richard Masitala.

However the police spokesperson said currently police have intensified day and night police patrols and community policing in Area 36 and Lilongwe in general to stifle further sprouting of the gang crews and terror.

He said, “The 11 Bongos second in command Tiyese James is arrested on murder charges. He is suspected of leading the murdering of Richard Masitala in a fight between Soft boys and 11 Bongos gangs. It’s now two ring leaders in police custody with more arrests to follow.”

Recently police in Mchinji also arrested about 17 young boys who called themselves ‘Boko Haram’ aged between 14 to 16 years of age that bullied school going children.

However, police have issued a fresh caution to parents to monitor their children against forming and joining gangs saying nobody will escape from police long hand and that once arrested they would face the law.

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25 thoughts on “Of nurturing criminals: ‘11 Bongos’ gang in Malawi”

  1. Thomandy says:

    Just shoot them

  2. Thomandy says:

    Sizowona akuyenela kulandila chilango chokhwima

  3. Mwenyeheli says:

    11 bongos izabwere kunyumba kwanga. muzangomva zothaitha nditaphulitsa mitu ingapo ya akapolo amenewa ndi onga wazipolopolo. Ukawauza apolisi akachasowa palibe amapanga. Kkkk nanga apolisi nkumati tili nawo kumanena achina Kaching’ona akukawale? kkkkkk kachaso ali mbweeeeee mthupi.

  4. Mphangela says:

    Ofunika kumanga kaye mafumuwo coz ndi ana a azibale awo.akaulula.

  5. Wafa basi!!! says:

    Zonyansa kwambiri!!!!!

  6. Aferazao says:

    Let Military Police go to that place and clean it of these notorious beasts. Our police is a disgrace, how can they fail to deal with all the gang members?

  7. Honey Trap 36 says:

    We are scared of these dreadful creatures.Even the feared Ndirande inkatha cannot do anything to these weed smoking thugs.There role models are boko haram thugs.We are locking ourselves in houses to keep away from these blood baying thugs.They have totally gone mad at the moment.Even some girls joined them like the Pinks girls.These girls can fight like men.

  8. yofoyofo says:

    Where is the army? kwathu kuno kulibe nkhondo, ngati apolisi achepera the army should come in to wipe out these headless mbuliz.

  9. nancholi says:


  10. mtoloboy says:

    Where are our poloce officers

  11. Pacharo says:

    Pepani amake Richard Masitala. I can feel for you. Police, please seriously help in this!

  12. Ndinthawi says:

    people have evidence, the killers are there seen by people and even the victims. What is the police doing? By just nabbing 2 boys it wont help!!! Get them all and do the job befitting this stupid behaviour!!!!! should we be slaves in hour own country, city and homes? No ways!!!!!!!!!

  13. ajijooo says:

    Chamba anawa kuthawa xool makoloso simukuwalera bwino muziona simunati

  14. matako m'mwamba says:

    Stiff punishment is what is neededa. But I don’t doubt, our police are behind this because are also thieves.

  15. ujeni says:

    This sounds like a fiction novel. Thugs terrorising the public in broad daylight and nothing the incompetent unskilled iliterate police service act. Kikikiki za masanje zenizeni ndithu. And we call Malawi a peaceful country. What do Malawi police do kweni kweni, harassing motorists basi. All these are signs of a failed state.

  16. Issa Kabudula says:

    Deploy the Mobile Force – we don’t wont to nurse the problem, which will bring more problems in future. Arrest al of them and jail them for some years. How can the community see the gangsters, knowing their names and their locations without reporting them to police? And if the police were alerted on the issue why not reacting? Why is the spy boss? This is what we have seen in South Africa recently where some few individuals with their own agenda caused untold misery to many people and their countries. Malawi with its donor free budget is working hard in repatriation programme, taking every one home from ugly xenophobia attacks. The so called gangsters must be stopped, Western Cape (Cape town) is one of the province which has nursed the gangsters – today the gangsters got too much power that it will take generations to last.

  17. makito says:

    Malawi. I now remember Kamuzu with melancholy.

  18. amina says:

    Police you are a crap. I thought you charged the Mchinji gang MK5,000 and left them free and you think they are going to stay put. The judge who gave them this punishment is mental disturbed I think. You are a thorn in the eye. If more of these are unveiled dont cry foul becoz the next stop is your home. Why do you rejoice when people are suffering becoz of unruly kids who are our own children. Lets treat them right. I feel shoot to kill is the best for such gang.

  19. zanga phee says:

    Ngati Apolice akulephera kuthana ndi magulu amenewa , osawawuza Asilikali a ku Kamuzu Barracks akagwire ntchitoyo bwanji.zoona ana osapola pa mchombo azivutitsa choncho apolice mulipo, ana amenewo akudelera boma kwabasi, kumayambitsa magulu otero koma osathana nawo.
    Tiwuzeni ife a kuno Ku Ndirande tikagwire ntchito kumeneko , onsewo tikathana nawo , tipititsa INKATHA kumeneko kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.

  20. angoni says:

    Very true, ku area 36 tikuvutika kwambiri. Tikumenyedwa, kulandidwa zinthu by force. Mafumu a delari akumatuma anyamatawo, no wonder samachitapo kanthu tikakadandaula. Amadya nawo ndalamazo akatilanda. A police tithandizeni ngati mukulephela akuthandizeni asilikali a army chifukwa ndi amene amawopedwa.

  21. Rodriguas Latata says:

    The Mchinji group comprised policemen children too.

  22. concerned parent says:

    Arresting these youngsters is not enough and solving solution.The Government needs to do something for the youth to make them preoccupied to kill the boredom that is leading them to do these unnecessary behaviours.They should be some youth clubs that should engage them to do something than just blaming them.It is a duty of parents to have watchful eyes on what their kids watch,read,how they dress and what type of friends they hung around with.It is not the responsibility of the police alone,but parents too.

    1. Sapitwa kakulanye says:

      Concerned parent, you don’t understand the behavior of these bandits. They don’t want school, parent guidance and what have you. The problem is not idleness, they are a lost generation not needed in society. Their contribution to society is negative. They behave like some crazy animals. What is needed is to remove their freedom, they even refuse to do any chore at home. They are a burden to Malawi.

  23. Area 36 resident says:

    You always meet these red eyed fiery animals at St Johns Market drinking cheap sachets and smoking some smelly weed always looking for money surrounded by some shabily dressed girls.Sometimes you wonders if these animals have parents.They like howling and giggling like hyenas.We are not safe in this area.The police have much work to do in this area with alot of gangs with funny names.Why only area 36?

  24. wakwinthu says:

    Kukanakhala kuti zimatheka anthu awa akapezeka aziphedwa in day light

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