Whatever passes for screening mechanisms in the Malawi Police Service must surely have gone to sleep when Steve Moyo Chikulupati applied for a job, went for training and was admitted in the service in 2012.
Chikulupati, popularly known as Nthini among friends and acquaintances, served two of the nine years the Blantyre Magistrateâ€™s Court imposed on him in 2000 after being found guilty of forgery, obtaining goods by false pretence and uttering false documents.
He was later acquitted by the High Court. However, police only chanced upon this information after the ex-convict had graduated as a police officer on October 7th 2012, raising serious questions about the reliability of the screening process for recruits in the service.
After graduating, Chikulupati was posted to the Police Mobile Force (PMF) in Limbe where he was working until the matter was bought to the attention of his employers during Nation on Sunday investigations.
Southern Region Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa said on Thursday Chikulupati was summoned to give his side of the story but did not show up without giving reasons.
Said Gondwa: â€œHe is currently on a disciplinary hearing for abscondment of more than four days from the day he was scheduled to report to Southern Region Police Headquarters. His charge is absenteeism and we are yet to hear the verdict.â€
Asked why police did not screen Chikulupati rigorously enough to obtain such information before recruiting him, Gondwa referred Nation on Sunday to National Police spokesperson Rhoda Manjolo.
But Manjolo asked for more time to get information on the matter.
Our investigations found that Chikulupati was convicted in 2000 by the Blantyre Magistrateâ€™s Court which sentenced him to nine years imprisonment with hard labour. He served part of his sentence at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre before he was transferred to Zomba Maximum Security Prison.
However, upon appeal, the High Court in Blantyre quashed both the conviction and sentence, resulting in his release from prison in 2002.