|In yet another armed robbery, one more police officer lost his life in the line of duty yesterday in Lilongwe. The unnamed officer joins a growing list of violent crime victims in the Malawi Police Service (MPS).|
What started as a normal working day for the officer turned into a tragedy as armed robbers shot him dead and made away with money estimated in millions of kwacha he was expected to protect.
Two other officers were critically injured in a fierce exchange of fire near Amina House along Paul Kagame Highway (formerly Chilambula Road) in the capital city.
National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo last evening refused to disclose identities of the deceased officer and survivors.
The Nation crew that visited the crime scene soon after the incident counted over a dozen bullet holes on the cash vehicle belonging to Petroda Limited that was said to be en route to a bank.
Straight from the initial crime scene at Amina House roundabout, the five robbers also hijacked a commuter minibus at Chitukuko in Area 15 and forced out its passengers at gun point before speeding away in it, according to witnesses.
However, in their haste, the criminals left behind a driving licence and one of the seven guns they allegedly used.
Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) director Jonathan Ngoma confirmed the death of the police officer and said the others are in stable condition.
Jolly Francisco, who was at the scene, said four passengers, two police officers, a cashier and a driver were heading to the bank to deposit money collected during the weekend.
“When they approached the roundabout, a grey [Nissan] Tiida went straight and hit the minibus, which forced the driver to stop, thinking it was an accident. All of a sudden, two robbers went inside the minibus and helped each other carry a briefcase believed to have contained the money and sped off,” he said.
According to Francisco, the robbers, who at this time had a flat tyre due to the exchange of fire, hijacked another minibus at Area 15.
He said: “One policeman was shot dead on the spot, while another tried to run away while holding his shot left arm and fell flat on the ground before he could go any further. The drivers’ fore head was hit by the bullet, while the cashier escaped unharmed.”
In an interview yesterday, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Atupele Muluzi said police are doing all they can to find the suspects. He too refused to give further details on the identities of the victims and how much money was believed to have been stolen.
In recent months, police officers have been victims of armed robberies that have claimed a number of lives.
In December last year, armed robbers shot dead a police officer at First Merchant Bank (FMB) Blantyre Branch while in March this year another police officer was also killed by robbers in Limbe.