Thursday, 29 March 2018

Zambia's Police Chief Speaks Out Against Officers' Indiscipline

Deputy Inspector General of Police Malcolm Mulenga inspects
a Guard of Honor mounted by graduating Police officers
at Kamfinsa in Kitwe. -Picture by Melody Mupeta

By Paul Shalala

Of late, videos of drunk police officers in uniforms have gone viral on social media, with many observers worrying about the levels of indiscipline in the Zambia Police Service.

Last year, an armed Police officers who was captured on video, seemingly drunk, coaked his AK 47 rifle while having an argument with Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo at a filling station in Lusaka.

"Nikulasa, ndiwe ndani (I will shoot you, who are you?" said the officer as he moved around the filling station while holding his Russian made rifle in a ready-to-fire position.

The video went viral and that was not the last one.

Several others showing Police officers drunk, lying on the grown or walking unsteadily have become common.
Similarly, pictures of female Police officers in tight skirts or trousers while on duty have also become common especially on Facebook.

Officers innocently share these photos on Facebook and Instagram but cyber bullies and some blogs re-post them to make funny of the men and women in uniform.

This has on several occasions left the Police Public Relations Office to issue statements to either protect the officers or guide on the approved dress code.

But no senior Police officer has ever condemned this behavior in public.

Until now, the public has been left to wonder whether the officers are rebuked silently or are left to enjoy their freedoms.

But yesterday, the silence was broken by Malcom Mulenga, Zambia's second highest Police officer.

Mr Mulenga, who boldly took on officers to the shock of many high ranking Police officers, disclosed that discipline is going down among the law enforcers and there is urgent need to ensure that officers start working according to their code of standards.

Speaking when he officiated at the pass out of 99 Police officers at the School of Public Order Maintenance in the mining town of Kitwe yesterday, Mr Mulenga said the indiscipline levels have reached a point where members of the public are now filming drunk Police officers.

"These days, we see pictures of drunk Police officers being shared on social media. They even say bwana amwa (the officer is drunk). You are even smiling. That is bad, we need to protect the Police Service and we can only do so if we maintain total discipline," said Mr Mulenga.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police also showed his displeasure among the graduating Police officers who were wearing old, torn and faded colours of uniforms during the pass out parade.

He said he was disappointed that officers who were graduating were wrongly dressed and warned that if this repeats itself next year, he will postpone graduations until officers look smart and well dressed.

"Some of you are wearing uniforms which are old, like they were bought in 1964. Am disappointed, you look dirty. You look like you have just come from the jungle and were told to come and form up on this parade," said the visibly annoyed Police chief.

Due to some unprofessional conduct of its officers over the years, the Zambia Police Service has started retraining its serving officers.

Last year, a total of 1,700 officers were retrained following the Police High Command's decision to conduct refresher courses for all officers every after five years.

And this year, 3,000 officers from the rank of Constable to Chief Inspector are earmarked for refresher courses.

"Of the 99 grandaunts we have today on this parade, 84 were males while 15 were female. These officers come from all the 10 provinces of Zambia," said Patrick Bili, the Divisional Commander at the School of Public Order Maintenance in Kitwe which is popularly known as Kamfinsa.

Among the many topics the officers learnt were crowd control, gender based violence, criminal law, counter terrorism and child protection.

These refresher courses, which are being held at Sondela in Kafue, Lilayi in Lusaka and Kamfinsa in Kitwe, take one month and are aimed at helping the officers to improve their professionalism.

This is hoped to help reduce the sharing of pictures and videos of Police officers who find themselves in awkward situations.

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