Crime

Malawi reduced crime in 2017 year end – Blantyre police

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Blantyre Police records 50.1% crime reduction in 2017

The just ended year, 2017, a report by Blantyre Police Station indicates that police has managed to reduce the crime rate in the city by 50.1 percent.

According to a report signed by Sub – Inspector Augustus Nkhwazi PRO Blantyre Police Station , the reduction in crime rate follows enhanced police visibility in both uniform and plain clothed officers, day and night patrols (motor vehicle, bicycle and foot), improved working relationship with communities in the implementation of community based policing initiatives, among others.

In 2017, the station recorded 2668 criminal cases as compared to 5347 criminal cases recorded in 2016, representing a 50.1 percent decrease with a reduction in violent crimes.

“A total of 116 robbery cases were recorded in 2017 as compared to 286 in 2016 representing 59.4 percent decrease. 589 breaking cases were reported in 2017 while 1272 were reported in 2016 (53.7 percent decrease). This is a very positive development for the business, industrial and working class populations in the City of Blantyre,” reads part of the statement.

On Traffic Management, Blantyre Police recorded 417 road accidents in 2017 whereas 601 road accidents were recorded in 2016, a 30.6 percent decrease. 35 people lost their lives in 31 fatal road accidents in 2017 compared to 65 people who died in at least 42 fatal road accidents in the year 2016.

A lot of the accidents occurred along the Zalewa road, seconded by those along the Blantyre-Chikwawa road. Among some other factors, the accidents were caused due to sharp bends along Blantyre-Chikwawa Road and failure by motorists to observe and adhere to all road safety signs and regulations.

Nkhwazi commended Blantyre residents for their role in issues of safety and security saying various companies, organizations and individuals provided resources such as fuel and others which facilitated the smooth running of police operations in the city.

Common Crime Threats in Malawi

Malawi presents a crime and safety situation that is consistent with many impoverished and developing countries. As the country continues to address ongoing economic issues, crime remains a serious concern. Pickpockets and purse snatchers often loiter near bus stations, marketplaces, shopping centers, and restaurants. Few problems have been reported at Malawian airports, but heightened awareness is still recommended in those locations as well. Most hotels are safe, but less reputable accommodations can be less secure. Valuables should not be left in hotel rooms, and visitors should be cautious when utilizing room safes, as many are not securely anchored.

Visitors should be mindful of vehicle robberies, carjacking, residential burglaries, armed robberies, and home invasions. Criminals tend to work in groups of 5-15 people, are most commonly armed with panga knives (machetes), and sometimes are armed with a firearm. Criminals are quick to use violence if their demands are not met. Expatriates have been victims of violent crime but do not appear to be specifically targeted. If faced with an armed assailant, compliance is usually the best course of action to avoid personal injury.

Criminal activity is more common in urban areas than rural areas. Neighborhood policing efforts have aided in crime prevention and reporting but have not substantially decreased criminal activity. The Embassy is aware of several incidents of mob justice resulting in fatalities, even within major city limits. These incidents are often a result of public distrust and lack of confidence in the Malawi Police Services.

Single family homes and compounds are frequent targets of property crime, and residential home invasions are not uncommon. Establish and use a residential safe haven/secure room if feasible. Hire a residential guard and install an alarm system with a reputable company.

Security should be factored into all decisions, particularly with regards to lodging, travel, and activities. Below is a list of tips to help visitors remain safe while visiting Malawi:

Never walk on the street during the hours of darkness. Walk in a group, or at least in pairs and avoid isolated areas.Use extra caution when crossing the street. Always have a means of communication and a list of phone numbers with you. Let someone know about planned absences and means of contact.

Organized crime is not prevalent. However, Malawi’s porous borders are ripe for exploitation and have facilitated human trafficking rings, illegal migration, and other cross-border criminal activities. Malawi is used as an illegal transit route for passage from other African countries enroute to South Africa.

Transportation-Safety Situation in Malawi

Road Safety and Road Conditions 

One of the greatest safety risks when visiting Malawi is the potential of a traffic accident. If a road accident occurs away from an urban area, there is little chance of a timely response by emergency medical personnel. The majority of the vehicles on the road should not be considered roadworthy and often lack basic safety features (brake lights, turn signals, headlights). Overloading of vehicles is common and affects speed, the ability to stop, and maneuverability. Many drivers operate their vehicles with no regard for traffic laws.

The roads are in poor condition. Most of the roadways, except for major thoroughfares, are not paved, leading to accessibility problems during the rainy season. Asphalt roads often lack a shoulder and are crumbling at the edges; breakdowns and accidents are rarely cleared from the roadway and present additional hazards. Seasonal heavy rains result in washouts, sinkholes, and potholes. In this densely-populated country, the roads are also congested with people, cattle, goats, and cyclists carrying heavy loads. Almost all roadways are not illuminated at night. Vehicle travel at night should be strictly limited to major urban areas, and even then caution must be exercised not only due to other drivers and pedestrians on the road but because of criminal elements. Plan all in-country travel so as to arrive at your destination before dark.

Vehicle robberies are not uncommon, even in daylight hours. Victims are often targeted when a vehicle is stopped at an intersection or in a residential driveway.

Public Transportation Conditions

The use of public transportation is not recommended. Public transportation is extremely limited and unreliable. It primarily consists of private citizens driving independently, and unregulated passenger vans in varying but generally poor states of condition and repair. These vehicles are frequently overburdened, and the drivers are inexperienced and untrained. In the cities, bicycle taxis or small motorized tricycles are common but unsafe.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

There are two international airports located in Lilongwe and Blantyre with service around the region. Both airports support commercial air traffic, and flights in/out of Malawi are readily available. Airport security, screening, logistics, and emergency response are commensurate with other airports in sub-Saharan Africa.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LILONGWE AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

Americans are welcome and do not normally face hostility or aggression on the basis of their citizenship. However, there is minimal indication of anti-American or anti-Western sentiment amongst the general population.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED LILONGWE AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Public discontent with economic problems (power cuts, food insecurity, fuel shortages, inflation) and perceived poor governance exists. Many security issues are the result of the poor state of the economy, which saw high inflation and unemployment persist in 2016. Public protests, both planned and unplanned, occurred through 2016 and have affected both residents and visitors. Protests and demonstrations have not been directed at American/foreign citizens or at U.S. government facilities/interests. Even though incidents of civil unrest have generally been peaceful with no resulting fatalities, political demonstrations can quickly become violent.

Post-specific Concerns

Critical Infrastructure

Malawi’s infrastructure is underdeveloped. Water shortages can occur, especially during the dry season. Electricity is generally limited to the large cities, and power outages are frequent.

Personal Identity Concerns

Homosexuality is regarded as taboo, and openly identifiable LGBTQ persons can be subject to harassment and hostility. Although the government has maintained its moratorium on enforcement of anti-sodomy laws, those accused may still be subject to arrest.
Individuals with albinism have been attacked in the rural areas. The government of Malawi is actively engaged in a campaign to protect individuals with albinism.

Police Response

Crime Victim Assistance

The capabilities of the Malawi Police Service are growing, but its abilities to deter and investigate crimes, assist victims, and apprehend criminals are extremely limited. The police lack basic equipment (particularly transportation), are poorly funded, and do not receive sufficient training. Public support for the police has continued to drop, due in part to alleged corruption and ineffectiveness in deterring criminal activity. Should you become the victim or suspect of a crime, you should contact the local police and U.S. Embassy Lilongwe, or inform the police of your American citizenship and ask them to contact the embassy on your behalf.

Police/Security Agencies

The Malawi Police Service is the national law enforcement authority. The police emergency phone number is 990 and is the easiest means of obtaining police assistance.

The 24-hour phone number for the national police headquarters in Lilongwe is 01-796-333. The phone number for the Lilongwe Central Police Station is 01-753-333, and the Blantyre Central Police Station can be reached at 01-623-333. If dialing from a U.S.-based phone, first dial 265 and drop the initial “0” of the telephone number. These are office numbers and are not capable of dispatching any police units.

Medical Emergencies

Medical facilities lack resources and are not comparable with those of the U.S.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Lilongwe

  • Lilongwe Central Hospital –– 01 753 555/ 01 751 109
  • Medi Clinic – 01 796 091
  • Likuni Mission Hospital – 01 766 574
  • Adventist Health Center – 01 775 680
  • African Bible College Community Clinic – 01 761 670/743
  • Medical Aid Society of Malawi (MASM) Clinic – 01 750 404

Partners in Hope – 01 727 155

Blantyre

  • Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital – 01 874 333
  • Mwaiwathu Hospital – 01 834 989

Insurance Guidance

All visitors are strongly encouraged to carry international medical evacuation insurance, and they should keep the contact information for the evacuation service with them at all times. In the event that a medical evacuation is necessary, those without insurance may have to pay $45,000 to $95,000 just to initiate the process.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

All visitors are strongly encouraged to begin and maintain appropriate malaria prophylaxis. The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Malawi




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