Nolliettie Chihana Chimala

Superintendent
• Lilongwe, Malawi
Nolliettie with photos - Behind the Uniform

“Being a woman in this role is a definite advantage…the local people come with more of a listening ear”

We don’t have a long history of women in police. There were policewomen who joined the service before me but with a small representation, it was always viewed as a job for men. I joined the Malawi Police Service at just 18 years old, in 2008, and thankfully since then, the number of women recruited has increased significantly. There’s been a real effort by the Service and the Government to get women incorporated in decision making positions and promoted to higher ranks.

We are proud in our country to be known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’.  We’re a peaceful nation but, of course, we do have crime, particularly in high population areas like our capital city, Lilongwe.  Previously, we were a Police Force and people were generally afraid to reach out to us.  Now, we are a Police Service and that is much more than just a name change.  Our approach today is to be part of the community, gaining back trust and ensuring a safe and secure Malawi.

As a superintendent in Lilongwe, I engage a lot with Chiefs.  If there is a local issue, we work with Chiefs to help us manage it, apply the law and bring back sanity.  We have to be realistic with what can be achieved with the resources available.  Sometimes we are challenged with the concept of ‘rapid response’ as the areas we cover can be very large and transport is not always available.  Things are improving, we have new bicycles now for community policing and the Government is going to provide us with more vehicles.

Communities are understanding if you explain the situation.  We were in an area recently and they told us that they sometimes felt ignored if they had a problem.  We had arrived in our vehicle so we pointed at it and asked them what would happen if there was an issue in another area right now? They understood we can’t be in two places at once.

“We’re a peaceful nation but we do have crime, particularly in high population areas like our capital city, Lilongwe”

One big learning for me is that being a woman in this role is a definite advantage.   When female police officers visit the community, the local people come with more of a listening ear.  They have more trust in female police officers. In simple terms, they believe that anything a woman says is the truth!

So, with that in mind I’m very aware that I’m a role model and have a special responsibility.  We have issues with gender-based violence and, when investigating, we find that the victims – females and males – find it easier to talk with a woman.

I’m the first person in my family to be a police officer and joining was my Mother’s idea.  I wasn’t keen at first, I was studying journalism and police training sounded very tough.  Once I got started, it actually wasn’t so bad, and after 12 years as an officer, I love it.  It’s the best place to be.  

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Issues of Trust & Respect
Nolliettie in Uniform outside - Behind the Uniform
Nolliettie in house - Behind the Uniform

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