Trial has finally started in a case in which 11 UPND cadres are accused of conducting themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace, with more than two police officers testifying in the matter so far.

One of the police officers testified before Lusaka Magistrate Albert Mwaba, Wednesday, that on December 23, 2020, he was deployed with other police officers to beef up officers who were keeping vigil at Police Headquarters where UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was supposed to be interviewed.

Joy Mukuka, a 50-year-old police officer at Lusaka Central Police Station, testified that upon arrival at the Lusaka High Court roundabout, the officers found a number of UPND sympathisers who were there chanting slogans, while some were allegedly insulting.

In this matter, the 11 UPND supporters are charged with idle and disorderly persons but pleaded not guilty.

The accused persons are: Auckland Katamanga, 38, a general worker of Kafue; Habinga Mainza,30, a security guard of John Laing; Marco Siyabukulu, 27, a chef of Ng’ombe Township; Joseph Mbuzi, 38, unemployed of Kalingalinga; Edwin Louis, 32, a businessman of Kaunda square stage one and Kamanga Siambilu, 41, a bricklayer of Kalingalinga.

Others are Peter Musoka, 34, a general worker of Kanyama; Briston Simuyendo, 21, a general worker of Mtendere; Charles Musonda, 45, a bus driver of Garden side area; Ganizani Moonga, 39, a salesman of Chalala and Chrispine Chipango, 46, a bricklayer of Bauleni.

It is alleged that on December 23, 2020, in Lusaka, the accused persons jointly and whilst acting together whilst at a public place namely along independence avenue, conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause breach of peace.

When the matter came up for commencement of trial before Magistrate Mwaba, Mukuka testified that upon arrival at the Lusaka High Court roundabout, the officers found a number of UPND sympathizers chanting slogans like “we want change, we want change”.

He said the UPND supporters were also allegedly hurling insults like “mulimbwa imwe” (you are dogs).

Mukuka said the officers tried to control the sympathizers by reasoning with them but they continued misbehaving.

He added that when the officers charged towards them, they scampered in different directions.

“It was at that point when me together with my colleagues managed to apprehend two between Chikwa Court and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross Church,” the officer said as he identified the two that they apprehended as Peter Musoka and Briston Simuyende who are among the accused persons.

He added that the two were later taken to Central police station for further investigations.

In cross examination, defence counsel Mulambo Haimbe asked Mukuka how many people were around the area during the arrest.

In response, Mukuka said about 200.

Further asked how he knew that the 11 who were arrested were UPND supporters, especially that they were in ordinary clothes, the officer said it was because they were chanting that they wanted change and that they were there because their leader was being interrogated.

Two other police officers; Emmanuel Banda, 41, operating under the Police Mobile Unit, Lusaka division and Misheck Chungu also testified in the matter.

The officers testified that on the material day around 10:00 to 11:00 hours, they were called to re-enforce the police officers at Police Headquarters.

The officers said when they reached near the Headquarters, they saw a group of suspected UPND sympathizers running while others were on three buses that were allegedly blocking the flow of traffic on the road.

Banda said they managed to block one mini bus motor vehicle but that its occupants managed to scamper in all directions.

He said the officers gave a chase after which they managed to apprehend two of the supporters who were taken to Lusaka Central police station where they were detained.

Banda identified the two as Katamanga and Chipango.

During cross examination, the officer admitted that he did not take time to establish whether the passengers on the said vehicle they blocked were mere passengers.

Trial continues.

20 UPND cadres were arrested on December 23, last year, on the day UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was being questioned by the Police.

Public prosecutor Nsama Nsama and UPND sympathiser Joseph Kaunda were also shot dead near NPA offices on the same day as police officers dispersed the UPND supporters who had gone to offer solidarity to Hichilema.

Hichilema was being questioned over the purchase of a piece of land in Kalomo district belonging to late Samson Siatembo, which allegedly occured in 2004.

The police further impounded three buses which were carrying the said cadres.

Nine of the 20 UPND cadres who were arrested are appearing before Lusaka Magistrate Felix Kaoma, while the other 11, before Magistrate Albert Mwaba.