Finally, after tempers cooled, Malawi Police Service and Chilomoni residents in Blantyre on Tuesday sat at a round-table and mapped the way forward regarding rehabilitation of Chilomoni Police Sub-Station which was torched a week ago.
The meeting, held at Gold Card Lodge in Namiwawa, followed police indications that they would not provide an alternative complaints lodging facility for the residents because they had deliberately burnt down their police station.
However, during the meeting, Foster Mangani, Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police responsible for Blantyre Urban commended the community for deciding to meet the police and map the way forward.
Mangani, who last week said the residents would face the consequences of torching the police station, said the sub-station is one of the most important police institutions in Blantyre as its catchment area includes the presidential Sanjika Palace and other important places such as the historic Chilomoni Catholic Church.
Namiwawa Social Community Policing chairperson Chifundo Lingawo said it is sad that the arson took place barely two weeks after their committee, elected to work hand in hand with the police, was formed.
He said at an earlier meeting the residents agreed to form a task force that would look into the damages and how much is needed for renovations and then the task force will notify the residents about those things. Thereafter, anyone willing to help can come forward.
Former Flames footballer Cedrick Nankhumwa, a Chilomoni resident, in his contribution, suggested the need to consider what led to the fracas as police officers in Chilomoni, in their uniforms, are usually found in social joints during working hours.
Responding to Nankhumwa, MPS director of operations Senior Deputy Commissioner Clifford Bandawe said the blame-game would not yield positive results. He said it was time to concentrate on what is more important, which is the community’s safety.
He said: “Our [service] rules do not allow a police officer to enter a social joint, worse still to carry a gun when going to such a place, unless he or she has been called to tame a situation. If residents have issues with an officer, it is good to report to the officer in-charge.”
On June 22 2015, Chilomoni Police Sub-Station was torched by irate residents who protested the death of one of their colleagues identified as Dyson Mjojo, 48.
It is alleged that prior to his death, the deceased was involved in a fracas with some newly recruited police officers at dawn on June 22 in the township.