The Malawi Police Service (MPS) has announced that 2 119 suspects were arrested and two guns confiscated during a joint operation it carried out with other key security agencies, including the Malawi Defence Force (MDF).
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, National Police deputy spokesperson Mable Msefula said 987 suspects were arrested in the Central Region, 473 in the Southern Region, 414 in the Northern Region and 282 in the Eastern Region.
She said most of the suspects were arrested for rogue and vagabond and some of them have already been convicted by courts of law. She said the suspects have been asked to pay fines or serve custodial sentences.
According to Msefula, the exercise also led to the arrest of 218 illegal immigrants, 20 ‘wanted’ criminals (habitual offenders), two murder suspects and recovery of items, including two guns.
Said Msefula: “The operation also saw officers confiscating two rifles, one of them in the Northern Region. The officers also confiscated medical drugs, chamba and assorted items suspected to have been stolen.”
The operation, which started on Friday and ended on Saturday night, was jointly conducted by MDF, MPS, the Immigration Department, the Prison Department and intelligence agencies.
The development came barely hours after police officers fasted and held day-long prayers nationwide in search of divine intervention while on duty as a sharp peak in the crime rate shakes the national security establishment.
In recent weeks, the country has witnessed a significant rise in crime, particularly in urban areas, since President Peter Mutharika came to power in May 2014.
Robbers have even been attacking people and various places during day time, thereby creating fear and panic among Malawians.
The fearlessness of the perpetrators has been as shocking as the frequency of their crimes.
Just last week, burglars broke into and attempted to steal at the Vice-President’s official residence in Blantyre, raising questions of how safe citizens are if the home of the second most powerful man on the land—Saulos Chilima—can be violated so easily.
Two weeks ago, Standard Bank Mzuzu Branch was also robbed of over K500 million by gun slingers.
The bank job prompted the President to declare war on crime and announced that as a starting point, government had bought 50 vehicles to equip the police to effectively respond to the crime concerns.
Yesterday, National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo said the exercise is one of the initiatives aimed at reducing crime in the country.
But Manjolo said she could not reveal the type of interventions planned as doing so would jeopardise security.
She also said it was not the first time police and other security agencies held a joint exercise. She said inclusion of other officers boosts the expertise in combating crime.
However, Manjolo said despite that the exercise was a two-day event, police are still vigilant to combat crime.
In a related development, prior to the national operation, police in Lilongwe arrested four suspected ‘hard-core’ criminals who allegedly led gangs that beat up and stole from people crossing the Lilongwe Bridge at night.
The four, currently remanded at Maula Prison, have since appeared before the Lilongwe Magistrates’ Court where they were charged with the offence of robbery with violence, contrary to Section 301 of the Penal Code.
Lilongwe Police Station spokesperson Kingsley Dandaula said the four suspects were in a group of more than 20 people initially arrested under the rogue and vagabond charge, after being found loitering at night in potential crime scenes around the bridge area.