The Malawi Police Service has integrated two officers with albinism into its ranks, making the first people with the rare genetic pigment disorder in Malawi’s State Security Organization.
The two constables are Hamid Vasco and Brenda Mhlanga who graduated last Friday after six months of training and were welcomed into the Police Service Monday alongside other new recruits.
Rights groups said the development would help efforts to crack down on attacks against people with albinism and restore confidence in police after some officers were connected to such attacks.
Vasco, 25, said he decided to join the police to help stop attacks on people with albinism in Malawi: He said, “So, this gave me the [opportunity] to apply to be a police officer so that I can work hand in hand with my fellow officers on issues of investigating the cases and crimes concerning the killing and abduction of persons with albinism”.
Speaking to reporters, the President of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Young Mahamba, said there was a change in policy after his association and other campaigners lobbied for police to hire people with albinism.
However, a representative for Malawi Police Service, Peter Kalaya, said there was no change in policy. He said the problem was that people with albinism were not applying for police jobs and the police do not expect any special contribution from Vasco and Mhlanga toward combating attacks on albinos.
In his words, “There is no specific policy change because we have the requirements which each and every person who wants to join the police service must satisfy. And these two managed to meet those conditions and even succeed in both physical and classroom training.
“Their coming will of course add something because having them in the service might be a message to those people who perpetrate these acts. For example, sending a message to perpetrators that ‘Okay, these people can also be police officers, they can also carry guns.’
But in terms of efforts at investigating, prosecuting or following up on cases to do with attacks and killings of people with albinism, we were capable, and we are still capable”.