Malawi Police report reveals crime surge in Karonga: Demand for new prison

A report released by the police in Malawi’s northern district of Karonga is showing an increase in criminal cases in the district over the recent past.

This came to light during security meeting involving the police and members of the general public where the police read out the report which shows criminal cases increase of 27% from January to March 2013.

Karonga Police Research and Planning Officer Inspector Henry Kadzala, who read out the report, said the figures are very high as compared to last year in the same period.

“We are having nine percent increment of criminal cases this year compared to last year a thing that worries us” said Kadzala.

Prison authorities nee new facility in Karonga
Prison authorities nee new facility in Karonga

He attributed this to the lack of enough police personnel to cater for what he described as  socially and economically developing district.

“Karonga police has 261 police officers and we are saving a total number of approximately 270,960 people reflecting a police population ration of 1:1038 which is not in line with the recommended population ration of 1:500. This is  a challenge to us,” said Kadzala.

He further said inadequate funding also affects the implementation of police planned activities as such some of the activities are not done.

Karonga Police Officer in-charge Foster Mangani told the meeting that the role of mitigating crimes in the district is in the hands of the community.

“Police on its own cannot do anything as such we depend on the community at hand to give us tips whenever they see things are not in place,” said Mangani.

He added that although the criminal cases are on the increase, his office is making everything possible to arrest the situation.

New Prison demand

Meanwhile, failure to re-construct a prison structure in Malawi’s northern district of Karonga which was destroyed by the earthquake in 2009   has made Karonga police cell to become a prison cell a development that has worried authorities there.

The destruction of Karonga resulted in the transfer of all the prisoners to Mzuzu and Rumphi prisons. Since then the prison was only keeping only 50 prisoners with maximum sentence of below 18 months.

Karonga Station Prosecution Officer Peter Piringu says this in the situation now as it is congested in police cell with people on remand which are supposed to be in prison.

“We need to know where is the issue of the prison now because it has been a high time keeping people who are supposed to be in prison in long run we are experiencing congestion in our cells which is a worrisome thing,” says Piringu.

Karonga Prison Station Officer Inspector Stain Mkandawire concurs with Piringu saying they cannot keep on keeping people on remand because there is no enough security at the prison.

“Prisoners are just being kept in offices without a fence a thing that can disturb police investigations and they can even run away as such, it is good that they should still being staying in police cells for our own good,” says Mkandawire.

Mkandawire complains of overcrowding at the prison.

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