One of the pictures that went viral and the MPS statement
* People expressed their reservations on their stature and facial appearance that looked like they were underage
* It’s doubtful if these under-15 officers really passed physical training, otherwise trainings must be adjusted
* The short ones are very useful when it comes to criminal investigations (undercover police officers)
* Inu muzingoti mafana a school awa. Koma akufufuza zinthu. The police know what they are doing
By Duncan Mlanjira
Despite an explanation from the Malawi Police Service that it followed all minimum requirements in the latest recruitment of officers, some members of the public still have reservations over some of the new recruits who look underaged because of their baby faces.
The public debate over MPS’ recruitment started when pictures of some of the new recruits went viral on social media where the public expressed their reservations on their stature and facial appearance that looked like they were underage.
The negative public debate forced MPS to issue a statement, clarifying that all minimum requirements for recruitment were followed during the latest recruitment process, which included having a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and that they presented the National Identity — which is issued for those over 18 years old.
But some of the public still don’t buy this explanation, with some insinuating that there must have been some favourism by including kids of some senior police officers with some accusations bordering on unfounded allegations of corruption.
Some argued that recruiting such young people in security agencies is putting this country’s security at stake, saying security officers ought to be matured both physically and mentally.
“It’s doubtful if these under-15 officers really passed physical training, otherwise trainings must be adjusted,” commented one Chimwemwe Phiri on Facebook.
But James Justin Ching’amba disagreed to this, defending that new recruits are required to undergo medical examination to prove a clean Bill of health and undergo strenuous training for 6 months which makes them them fit.
Ching’amba bluntly remarked that Malawians just don’t appreciate when others have been picked instead of them or their relations, saying these new recruits are Malawians who deserve it and shall be required to undergo various trainings to suit they ingenuity.
He reminded that last year, Malawians also criticised Malawi Defence Force’s recruitment, saying the public should learn to congratulate others when they are picked rather than dwelling on negatives.
“Three years from now, these guys will be professionals at a very good age,” he said.
Marcus Tigonegone Chavura said: “The Constitution says every citizen has the right to development, work anywhere in this republic or rightly as put ‘every person shall have the right to engage in economic activity, to work and to pursue a livelihood anywhere in Malawi’ — that should be Section 29.
“Leave them alone unless if they are underaged, but above 18, no — let them go on and work.”
Lazarus Charles didn’t agree with Tigonegone Chavura, saying MPS has its standard in recruitment that include one must be physically fit plus having +1.6m height “of which I haven’t seen one in those girls”.
To which Khumbo Chirwa’s rejoinder said police work is not meant for every Jim and Jack; that they must be physically fit; must not be less than 1.6m in height; holding no criminal record and a minimum of MSCE.
“Those dwarfs don’t satisfy some requirements — ndi ana a ku Area 30,” he said.
To which Baba Watipasa Walumbiki said: “Unfortunately, Malawi is a country with 90% population of dwarfs— including myself. The height minimum standards should change please, what does height has to do with duties and responsibilities of the profession? This is discrimination.”
To which Steve Tseka said: “The short ones are very useful when it comes to criminal investigations (undercover police officers) inu muzingoti mafana a school awa. Koma akufufuza zinthu. The police know what they are doing.”
Fanizo Daniel Ndembeh agreed, saying “security has much to do with brains than nsinkhu (height). Train them as required, they will do the work. I’ve seen a lot of giant security officers failing to implement even crowd management. It’s all about brains, people!”
Kevin Stanley said these new recruits must be respected in that “they chose to serve and protect the citizens. For some, it’s a job; some it’s a calling. So I don’t see any issues with height.
“After all our police are not under threat — we are a friendly nation despite umphawiwu (our poverty).”
Mi Cah responded that those who singled out women as being short in height were “very discriminatory. Let us not pull down women. Why not look at what they are bringing to the table, their intellect and sacrifice to serve the nation.
“Even in the UK, recruitment into the armed forces is lowered for women. They are not short by choice. On assignment they are given specific roles in the service. A short person can serve as an administrator or a nurse or doctor and not in frontline combat.”
Another commentator was of the opinion that the height standard was set by colonialists and there was need to amend it through Constitutional means.
“After all, what does height do with police work? They can be short but as long as they do the job well there should be no problem.”
Kefa Kujingo said: “In short; Malawi is a country to live in regardless of disparities in age, height and weight. Let’s accept that this is a good development because it’s giving warning to those who have been working in police for a long time to remain vigilant and know that their time is slowly coming to an end.”
Marcus Tigonegone Chavura also commended the police for considering people living with albinism for the first time into the men in uniform services.