21 August 2019
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‘Ichocho’ – Man behind Luchenza’s tight security

Written by  Daniel Kasondo
'MR ICHOCHO': Luchenza Police Post Officer-in-Charge Lano Kamwendo -  Pic by Daniel Kasondo 'MR ICHOCHO': Luchenza Police Post Officer-in-Charge Lano Kamwendo - Pic by Daniel Kasondo

Thyolo, December 26, 2018: He is extraordinarily popular in Thyolo and the surrounding districts. 

His antics of maintaining peace and order earn him both reverence and ridicule without an iota of being bothered. He is a hero whose brevity and selflessness elevates his status above most men in uniform. A visit to Luchenza Police Post ushers you to a man whose achievements in fighting crime have spread like wild fire. 

At this establishment, you meet an imposing figure, broad-shouldered and gigantic officer whose voice marches his stature.

Whatever ‘going back to the drawing board’ means in security; that is the reason he gives for all his success.

“I always go back to my drawing board when assigned a task and then act accordingly,” says Senior Superintendent Lano Fanuel Kamwendo, Officer-in-Charge (OC) for Luchenza Police Post.

His presence in Luchenza Municipality, since January 2018, is felt even by chickens, some residents say, jokingly.

Ichocho as he is fondly known, a name derived from a Ndirande based weightlifting champion, is a  household name within and beyond the municipal boundaries.

Asked how he made a name for himself among many police officers, Kamwendo with a stern facial expression says: “I don’t know.
“I only know that I like my job. Besides, I do exactly what my job entails.”

Kamwendo says he was posted to Luchenza Municipality on a mission –to reduce crime and maintain order as crime was the order of the day. The municipality, which is located between Thyolo and Mulanje, is a beehive of activities, attracting people of different motives from as far as Muloza Border in Mulanje and Blantyre.

It is reported that a day hardly passed in Luchenza without a crime ranging from house breaking and robbery to murder.
From January to September, 2017, Luchenza Police Post’s research and planning department recorded 341 crime cases with robbery and theft ranking highly.

During the same period, in 2018, crime rate drastically reduced to almost half, courtesy of the tricks by the post’s new OC Senior Supt. Kamwendo.

“It’s all about working together with the community,” Kamwendo says.
“When I came, I went to all social gatherings like churches, mosques, markets and met chiefs and the business community. I wanted to garner support in reducing crime,” he adds.

No sooner had he engaged all the relevant stakeholders than the visibility of police in the municipality increased.
Drunkards no longer lingered around or slept along the roads and minibuses’ illegal packing reduced.
Even the din from bars that operated beyond stipulated time at night stopped.

There was total calm and sanity in Luchenza. Residents who were ignorant of the new police boss in town questioned the air of safety that had suddenly engulfed their areas.

The Toyota Foton pick-up which the unit benefited from the fleet of Chinese donation spiced the visibility of police.
Luchenza is not the only place that Kamwendo has worked by orders and demand. He has been to several places in Malawi on the same mission of reducing crime.

“Before I came here, I worked in Limbe when crime was high,” he says. He adds that the business community complained of theft and robbery especially in the main market.“I was assigned to stop it and successfully managed to contain the situation.
“In Limbe, robbers used to sleep right in the market committing different crimes there in. I organised an operation which brought sanity to Limbe,” Kamwendo proudly says.

The curiosity of this reporter on Senior Supt. Kamwendo developed after listening to a conversation between minibus drivers and conductors in Limbe, Blantyre.
They cautioned one another of Kamwendo’s presence in Luchenza.

“Ichocho is in Luchenza now, take care my friend,” warned one driver. “He slapped me for wrong parking and I still regret my action. The guy knows how to use his palm.” 

Kamwendo admits to have influenced and brought sanity in the problematic town of Limbe especially on road usage by careless motorists but denied to have beaten anyone.

“Yes, I tried to stop minibus drivers’ madness of parking anyhow. There was unnecessary congestion caused by minibuses.
“I led a team which managed to bring sanity on the roads of Limbe. It was all through team work that we corrected the situation,” he says.

In Luchenza, sanity came with mere visibility of any police officer or their vehicle.
Most people do not exactly know who the popular Ichocho is; so everyone is on the alert not to go against the law or risk facing him.
The man is reputable for ensuring that every case ends in court. Attempts to corrupt him have landed people in cell.

A police officer, who does not want to be named, says since the new OC came to Luchenza crime is under control and there is high morale among officers.

“The community has confidence in their police now than before. We are encouraged and respected as residents acknowledge and appreciate the security in their municipality,” he says.

He describes his boss as a self-styled, courageous and fearless man who stops at nothing to achieve his goal.
“The man is a professional. He is always with us during night patrols. We feel encouraged,” the officer says.

Luchenza Municipal Council Director of Administration, Anthony Mapungwe says Kamwendo is a rare gem of police officers.
“I’ve worked with several OCs but the man’s performance is an extra step ahead of others.
“He’s always with his team on the ground day and night.  He’s not a type of ‘locked up in office’ boss,” Mapungwe says.
He adds that there is a big improvement in the way police officers execute their work in the municipality.

“We’ve had murders and robberies in this town,” he says. “But that is now history. I like it when they respond within few minutes of an incident.”

However, some people are not amused by Kamwendo’s policing antics. Bernard Nyasi, a bottle store operator feels all is not well.
He says people live in fear as they leave the town as early as 6 pm for fear of police.

“Those who claim that there’s security are women who want their husbands back home early. But for bread winners, the situation is bad,” Nyasi says.“There’s no way business can thrive without customers in town. This will affect development of this town. No investor can wish to come if people are chased out of town early,” he adds.

But Kamwendo counter argues that he is aware that not all people are happy with Luchenza’s current security status, saying some, especially those who benefit from security lapses, hate him for their own reasons.

“I don’t care people calling me names. I work within police standing orders,” he says emphatically.

Kamwendo, who initially wanted to be a priest, says he does not regret to have failed to realise his priesthood dream.
“I am equally serving the Lord by protecting people’s lives and property; and I am happy,” says Kamwendo who hails from Nyenga Village in the area of Traditional Authority Likoswe in Chiradzulu District.

Surprisingly, despite looking muscular, Kamwendo says he does not patronise any gym. “Instead I jog and cycle my 18-speed mountain bike; yes, but not much,” he says. “I mostly spend my free time eating and sleeping.”

Kamwendo assures Luchenza residents of total security and protection of their property and lives so long as he is supported to reduce crime in the municipality and beyond.

“I am here to work and not to play. I vowed to provide security and that’s exactly what I’m doing here in Luchenza,” he says.


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