In this audio, spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo says police are mandated to arrest people who gather with an intention to demand the release of Hakainde Hichilema, even if such a meeting was done inside a house.
Explaining how the Unlawful Assembly law was applied on the arrested UPND officials who met at their secretariat in Mongu yesterday, Katongo told News Diggers! that what makes a meeting unlawful is what people intend to discuss.
“What makes it a public place is what you want to discuss; is it in public interest? Is it something that has been forbidden? You can be at a restaurant, but what is it that you want to discuss? So we also put that into consideration,” Katongo explained.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, it can be at a private place but what is it that you are discussing? Is it something that will break the law? You can break the law at your private home, but you will be apprehended for that.”
When reminded that the said UPND officials had not even started their press briefing when police arrested them, Katongo said intending to commit a crime was a crime.
“They were intending to… when you look at our objectives as police as mandated by the Constitution; one, it is to prevent crime. We don’t wait for crime to be committed. We have always said that people should not be commenting on matters that are before the court. So we don’t waif for someone to commit a crime for us to move in, we can prevent an offence from being committed. It is part of our objectives.
Asked if it was no longer permitted for the UPND to demand for the release of their president, Katongo responded in the affirmative.
“No, it is not allowed. We have always said that it is against the law to talk about matters that are before the court. It is prejudicial and you can be apprehended for contempt of court,” said Katongo.
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But on June 16, church mother bodies held a press briefing at Kapingila House where Lusaka Archbishop Telesphore Moundu demanded the immediate release of Hichilema.
UPND vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba also held a press briefing on April 13 demanding the release of Hichilema, stating that he had not committed any offence.
Asked if police were investigating GBM or Archbishop Mpundu for demanding the release of HH at press briefings,” Katongo said “I do not have that information.”