Kaoma UPND member of parliament Morgan Sitwala has lamented that party supporters do not feel protected because police are fearing ruling party cadres.
On Sunday, Western Province police commissioner Charles Lungu said police had nabbed a UPND cadre who shot indiscriminately and injured two people, one of them his fellow opposition party member.
And in a statement on the same day, PF Western Province chairperson Charles Mututwa claimed that UPND cadres had trailed and shot at their supporters, injuring six.
The UPND campaign team was unavailable to give an account of events by press time. UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma, however, issued a statement, Sunday night, stating that PF cadres had shot and killed their supporter popularly known as Gadhafi, further fueling speculation as to what had actually transpired.
But in a statement on Monday, police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo confirmed the UPND statement that it was actually a ruling party supporter who killed an opposition party cadre during the fracas, contrary to what the area police commissioner had told the public.
And in an interview, Sitwala, who is also UPND campaign manager for the Kaoma council chairman elections, narrated that chaos began on Friday.
“What happened yesterday (Sunday) is quite sad the whole incident started on Friday. On Friday one of our youths was bashed just in the middle of town by a PF campaign truck. We reported to the police we hoped action will be taken but the same Friday at 15:00 hours, the PF cadres led by one of their cadres here in by the name of ‘Martial’ led a team of cadres who just arrived from Lusaka to our camp house in Site and Service and started shooting indiscriminately,” Sitwala said.
He said police failed to act after being threatened by PF cadres.
“We summoned the police and the police came on the scene led by the OC (officer in charge) of Kaoma to our dismay and surprise up to now there was no action that was taken despite finding this vehicle on the scene with pistols displayed on the dash boards and we pointed that these were the ones who were firing at us just few meters from the house but this PF cadre had the audacity to actually threaten the OC who grew cold feet. After that again, we had an incident where our vehicle was attacked in the evening near the secretariat in town. Arising from that, we had a meeting with our colleagues in the PF and we signed a peace accord but we told the police that if they will not take action arising from this incident, then we will see violence escalate,” Sitwala said.
“And therefore, we are not surprised and I bring you to the incident of yesterday (Sunday) where again the same camp house which was attacked. We went there in the morning around 10:00 hours, innocent women were just preparing food for the campaign team which had gone in the field, they started throwing missiles and told them that they will come later and finish them off. That is how one woman rang the youths who were in the fields to say ‘we are under attack here’, And they came back. When they came back, they found the vehicle for PF was approaching and the one who was driving just came out and started firing indiscriminately and that is where our youth was killed instantly because the bullets were lodged right in the brain!”
He charged that PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri barred him from visiting Gahdafi in hospital, wondering if he was already dead at the time.
“He was lifted to the hospital and taken there. Unfortunately I made an effort to go to the hospital to check him, I was barred just in front of the hospital building by PF senior party officials and cadres. Amongst those I found who are I know very well is the campaign manager for PF honourable Mulyata, Mr Mututwa the provincial chairman, Ambassador Luhila who is in the campaign team also, madam Mumbi Phiri who we were together in Parliament was there, Kampamba Mulenga was there. I demanded that I have access to see the patient but I was blocked and honorable Mumbi Phiri organised thugs to harass me in front of the hospital and actually tear gas was thrown in my vehicle and PF cadres chased me out of that place; and because they were so many, that is how I left the that place and I wanted to have a meeting with the officer commanding but it was not possible because the police where quite busy running, the situation was quite fluid,” Sitwala lamented.
“And later on, we came to learn that our cadre was dead and I can just imagine I was being denied access to see him because they knew that he was dead. The aircraft to evacuate him to Lusaka where ever it came from, was done without our knowledge. And I can now confirm it must have been a dead body being evacuated, the first time in the history of this country we are hearing a dead body being evacuated. You can imagine the interest that the PF have to get an aircraft all the way from Lusaka to pick a dead body and the aircraft was leaving Lusaka in the night around 19:00 hours. He was literally being brought in Lusaka as a BID (brought in dead), not for treatment.”
He wondered why police had arrested their youth chairman who had not killed anyone when no arrests had been made in the murder case.
“Their cadre is well and fine and their cadres are well okay but here is a situation imagine Chola Simwawa, UPND youth chairman, who was coming on the scene some few hours later just to come and verify with a motor bike; he was again pinned to the ground by the PF cadres almost killed that is the man now who is in the cells in Mongu being accused of having killed our own cadre and yet Chola was nowhere near the scene, the first scene I talked about. He was just going to check, that was some two hours later after the incidence that is when he met this other convoy and he was just pinned to the ground when already, this youth of ours was already dead and was already in the hospital and now in the custody of police being accused of killing his own friend,” Sitwala lamented.
“Indeed you can see there is no sense, it does not make any connection. How does someone who was not on the scene kill somebody? If anything, it could have been Chola who would have died in the second incident. But this is Zambia now where police are fearing cadres, where you are a PF cadre you can do anything and you are free, and if you belong to the opposition, where Chola is, he has to answer charges to an offence that he has not done. Everything is being manufactured.”
He said police had been forced to issue a factual statement because there were many witnesses to the crime.
“You see, there were people on the scene earlier, now the police wanted to cover up this incident trying to arrest [UPND District Youth Chairperson] Chola [Kaoma] and taking him to Mongu and now the witnesses who were witnessing the incident because it was in broad day light, many people witnesses have come up to give an eye witness statement of what had happened. And indeed the police now have got no where to go but to tell the truth because this morning we took the witnesses to go and give a correct statement to the police and I am happy that the police are now conceding,” said Sitwala.
“Our request as the UPND the law takes it course. As a campaign manager, I would like to see our campaign manager Chola who was arrested for an offence not committed, released immediately and we request the police to arrest the collect PF cadres who have killed, that is now murder. The body of our colleague is now lying in Lusaka. And the police now we are happy to see and do the correct thing so that the nation now can know that actually this violence is being perpetrated by PF.”