Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has condemned the practice of destroying or setting a blaze police units whenever there are demonstrations or riots.
In an interview, CCJP’s National Coordinator, Martin Chiphwanya, said it is retrogressive and irresponsible for communities to set a blaze police units whenever there are demonstrations or any disagreement with the police as such actions leave the community venerable to criminals.
“While people have a right to demonstrate, they have to exercise their right with responsibility. In any case, police units or vehicles that are set on fire and destroyed are purchased with their own monies through tax,” said Chiphwanya.
Chiphwanya said cases of this nature happen for various reasons, sometimes people are dissatisfied with the conduct of police officers when handling matters and sometimes disgruntled people with criminal intentions take advantage of peaceful demonstrations to advance their agenda.
In order to deal with issues of this nature, Chiphwanya said CCJP has been running several initiatives aimed at promoting active and responsible citizenship participation.
“We try to enhance the capacity of citizens by conducting a number of democratic dispersion and we have also tried to facilitate dialogue between rights holders and duty bearers so that differences are solved amicably at all times,” said Chiphwanya.
“However in all these scenarios, it is the community that suffers most because in the absence of police units, it becomes difficult for communities to report cases to the police and people become vulnerable to crime,” said Chiphwanya.
Concurring with Chiphwanya, National Police Spokesperson, James Kadadzela, said the act makes it difficult for the police service to deliver service to communities as they have to travel long distances.
“Police units are located within communities and when they are destroyed, usually officers are relocated and people have to travel long distances to access services that we provide and this causes delays at the end of the day people feel we are not a responsive service,” said Kadadzela.
Kadadzela added that police conduct civic education on the importance of police to different area as police units are there to assist communities.
“Whenever people have issues, they must learn to use proper ways of addressing issues like petitions and not going to the streets and destroying properties and police units. These police units are the ones people always rush to whenever there are grievances “said Kadadzela.
Social commentator, Billy Banda, said the recent spate of demonstrations was an indication of moral decay to say the least and which at times was politically motivated which he said if condoned would lead to anarchy.
“Destroying such important assets is a sign that there is an invisible hand working behind, being connected or influenced by politicians aimed at creating instability in the country so that such acts are attributed to loss of trust in government,” explained Banda.
On Friday the 23rd of June minibus drivers and conductors in Blantyre had demonstrations where three police units were destroyed.
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