Malawi Police chief touts shoot-to-disable policy

Inspector General (IG) of the Malawi Police Service, Loti Dzonzi,  has  vehemently defended the reversal of the shoot-to-kill policy for police, saying there is no law allowing police officers to shoot and kill caught in the commission of a crime, urging officers to resort in disabling suspects.

Dzonzi said this on Thursday when he visited Mzimba and Mzuzu police formations. His first visit to the north since his appointment as Inspector General.

Speaking at Mzimba police station, Dzonzi said Cops are law enforcers and not murderers who are supposed to shoot and kill suspected criminals.

Dzonzi: Shoot-to-disable and not kill

Dzonzi and the Malawi Police came under heavy criticism from members of the public and some police officers as many parts of the country have been experiencing deterioration in security following the reversal of the police.

However Dzonzi said police officers are only allowed to shoot suspected criminals to disable them so that they are apprehended by the law enforcers.

”There is no law that allow police officers to shoot and kill suspected criminals. We only shoot criminals to disable them so that we can arrest them,” said Dzonzi.

”People should not think that by not shooting and killing suspected criminals, the police are tolerating crime and criminals.”

Political scientist at the Malawi Catholic University, Vincent Kondowe, applauded ending the shoot-to-kill policy but said there must be a balance between issues of security and human rights.

The shoot-to-kill policy was first enacted last year under a directive from late president Bingu wa Mutharika during the July 20, 2011 anti-government demonstrations. Police shot and killed at least 20 people – sparking international condemnation and cuts in foreign assistance.

Discipline

The IG urged police officers to work diligently in ensuring the safety of every Malawian.

He also challenged them to increase their visibility and conduct regular patrols especially in crime prone areas.

Dzonzi  further called for discipline among the law enforcers saying he was disturbed by recent media reports of police officers being involved in corruption, fraud and criminal cases.

HIV/AIDS

The IG called upon police officers to desist from immoral behaviours to avoid contracting HIV and AIDS.

He said in 2011 alone, the Malawi Police service lost 110 police officers to the deadly disease, a development that is affecting police operations.

Dzonzi said police officers need to go for voluntary counselling and testing and seek early treatment in case they have been found with HIV, a virus that causes AIDS.

Malawi Police Service has 10, 400 police officers against a population of 13 million people.

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