Police distribute 126 security alarms to PWAs

Mchinji, Malawi Police Service in Mchinji has handed over 126 security alarms to persons with albinism (PWAs) as one way of strengthening security against abductions and killings of persons with albinism in the country.

The development comes after the security service institution launched an awareness campaign on security alarms on April 26 in Lilongwe District.

Speaking Wednesday during the handing over ceremony held at Chimteka Primary School ground in Traditional Authority Simphasi in Mchinji, Police Commissioner Responsible for Community Policing and Rural Police Units, Merlin Yolamu said the new initiative will allow PWAs to safeguard themselves individually.

She explained: Security starts right away with them as individuals, so these alarms will enable persons with albinism to have responsibility of protecting themselves by raising an alarm for people around to assist once they are in danger.

Yolamu then asked communities in the country to rush and help once they hear the sound of the alarm as it is a task too heavy for the few police officers available to maintain peace in the country.

Much as we are mandated to provide maximum security anytime and anywhere, the police officers are less than 15, 000 and the population of Malawi is about 17 million, a fact that justifies that a police officer cannot be found everywhere every time.

This is why we as police, are co-opting the communities to support in every way possible to safeguard human rights of persons with albinism and also other vulnerable groups, she said.

The commissioner indicated that they would pilot the intervention to a few district and then later roll out to all districts in Malawi.

She said: Recently, Mchinji has had attacks, we all know Machinga has a case in court and so too with Nsanje. We have chosen these districts for the first phase of the campaign and then we will reach to every district.

Yolamu explained that despite the decrease in reports on violence against PWAs, the police will not rest in hunting down and putting in custody the criminals.

At the moment, the attacks are infrequent due to various interventions the country has been taking but that cannot make us relax. This is why we are still on the run to avoid even a rare case, she explained.

Director of Programmes, Management and Evaluation in the Ministry of Gender responsible for the Department of Disability and Elderly affairs, Felix Sapala commended the strong relationship the police have established with communities, saying it is the reason the attacks have been minimised.

Of late, the communities have really assisted the police in curbing the malpractice, for instance in Mitundu in Lilongwe and Machinga, the communities coordinate against the criminals and hand them over to the authorities, he explained.

Sapala also condemned the malpractice, saying people should not be fooled by the myths that one can get rich from body parts of PWAs as a justification to commit in such violence.

It is not true that you can get rich out of bones of persons with albinism, that’s why some people are found in possession of the body parts near rotting, I hope due to the process of searching for the so-called markets, he said.

Association of persons with albinism in Malawi (APAM) Vice Chairperson for Mchinji District, Amidu Million hailed the new initiative of security alarms, saying it is a step forward to ending the crimes.

As long as the community has been sensitised on the alerts from such security alarms like it has been demonstrated today, they will come as quickly as possible to rescue us from the danger we are encountering, he said.

Source: MANA Online