Mutharika booed, stampede as police go wild

There was mad dash at most fuel stations in Blantyre Friday as police embarked on an unnamed operation descending on every person carrying jerry cans (zigubu) after some people booed President Bingu wa Mutharika when he was coming from Ndata in Thyolo going to Sanjika Palace.

Malawians are unhappy with the economic woes in the country that is currently racked by shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

Nyasa Times reporter saw live uniformed police officers disembarking from their 990 Police Patrol Land Cruiser vehicle Registration number MP 2128 and raiding Kudya (Zingwangwa) Puma Filling Station.

The heartless police officers snatched a number of jerry cans from people who were just chatting waiting for fuel to be delivered.

Mutharika: Booed

As the people were taken by surprise, most of them had their containers impounded while a few others managed to run away with them.

The operation did not spare those with valid authorization letters from Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) to buy fuel in containers hence questioning the legality of the police nameless operation.

No explanation was given why they were ruthlessly snatching the containers from the people, forcing many of them wonder why the Bingu wa Mutharika government continues taking pleasure in victimizing its own citizens.

However, some people told Nyasa Times reporter there were orders from above to snatch all the containers in fuel pump stations following an incident where people booed the President and were waving in the air yellow containers to Mutharika as his presidential convoy was passing.

The colour yellow is synonymous with the former ruling party United Democratic Front (UDF) during the reign of retired politician Bakili Muluzi.

Nyasa Times however learnt that the police were only advised to confiscate only yellow Zigubu but later decided to take away any type.

Orders

An officer at Chilobwe Police confirmed they had orders from above to take possession of all jerry cans from fuel stations but was not sure of its motive and for how long the exercise will last.

“Orders are tricky, they can change anytime. We have just been directed to carry out the operation and have also been told that all fuel filling stations will be calling the nearest police station whenever fuel is to be supplied so that we can effectively handle this operation,” said the police source.

Reports reaching Nyasa Times also revealed that police also seized Zigubu from scores of people waiting for fuel at Kameza Roundabout and Clock Tower Petroda Filling Stations.

“A police vehicle just pulled off, the next thing we saw uniformed police officers jumping out from their vehicle as if they were after a robber. As people tried to figure out what was happening, the police vehicle was full with jerry canes,” said one minibus driver who saw the incident happen.

He said unlike at Kudya, during the commotion a number of people lost their items like cash and cell phones as they fled the scene.

“We cannot afford to continue being harassed like this. And what is wrong with the police? A few days ago they were tear gassing primary school pupils and today they are harassing innocent Malawians, please aren’t there other worst things in the country to launch an operation on? It’s high time they reflected on their ruthless acts,” complained one lady at Kudya Filling Station.

She added: “Malawians are not happy with these unsponsored big walks [moving around town] with zigubu searching for fuel?”

However, it is still unclear whether the Blantyre police operation is similar to Lilongwe where the law enforcers are seizing fuel from vendors and other people who are keeping it in their homes.

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