Lilongwe City Council in conjunction with Malawi Police during the week embarked on a campaign to apprehend people who urinate in undesignated places in the city.
However, the exercise has been marred by reports that the officers from both institutions have seized the opportunity by cashing in from the exercise.
One of the apprehended persons, who did not want to be named, told Malawi News Agency (MANA) Wednesday that while the exercise was good, it was sad that the money he, along with others paid as fine was shared amongst the officers executing the operation.
“During detention, I was not alone, they asked us to pay them K5, 000 each but I did not have such money. I had K2, 000 only in my pocket as my transport money to Kasungu.
“For fear of being locked in custody, I tried to call my friend to send me the money via Airtel money,” said the man.
He said he did not have the money to pay for a toilet that is why he decided to help himself in the bamboo shrubs near Lilongwe Bridge, hence his apprehension by the police and city authorities.
“What pained me is that they were sharing our money amongst themselves after they released us,” he claimed, advising authorities on the need for adequate sensitisation on the matter as well as having several paying toilets in the city at an affordable charge.
Another eye witness at Lilongwe Town Hall where the incident took place, who also opted for anonymity, claimed that the day before (Tuesday), was worse as both police officers and city officials shared amongst themselves money that was paid by a number of offenders as fines.
“Yesterday it was worse because they (city and police officers) detained a lot of people from morning to lunch time and when they were asked to pay the money, they also shared it amongst themselves.
“I was thinking that all the people they apprehended would be taken to police but they later released them after paying the money,”
He further said after catching those that are found urinating on the open and undesignated places, the police and city authorities ask them to pay K5, 000 for them to be released.
When asked to comment on the matter, Public Relations Officer for Lilongwe Police Station, Kingsley Dandaula, said was aware of the campaign but not of allegations of police officers sharing money.
He said what he knows is that urinating along the river bank is disorderly and an offence for which culprits normally pay a fine of K5, 000 each to the city council and get their receipt immediately.
On issues of police officers using pepper spray and beating the suspects, Dandaula said he needed to find out, saying the culprits do not need to be beaten or harassed anyhow.
He further advised people who are involved in such offences to ensure that they have received their general receipt (GR) once they pay the fine.
However, Lilongwe City Council Public Relations Officer, Tamara Chafunya, did not pick her phone call for several times when this reporter tried to contact her on the matter.
It is common sight to see people that pass by Lilongwe Town Hall in the city going towards Lilongwe Bridge and those from the opposite direction helping themselves under trees, walls or in bamboo shrubs along the Lilongwe River.