The Human Rights Commission says the shooting of a bus driver and a passenger by a police officer in Lusaka’s Kamwala area is extremely worrying and at the same time frightening.
On Monday this week, a uniformed police officer shot a Flash Bus driver Harrison Miti in the abdomen twice and a female passenger Janet Zimba after the commuter bus driver contravened traffic rules.
Police spokesperson Esther Mwata Katongo distanced the security wing from the incident, saying the shooter could have been a criminal clad in police uniform.
But HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya said the claim by police would leave the public confused, as people understand that every person in police uniform is a genuine law enforcement officer.
“It is extremely worrying that a criminal act of a suspected police officer, fully clad in a uniform, blocked a minibus in broad daylight and shot the driver in the abdomen twice, ripping out his intestines, while one bullet injured a female passenger on the leg,” Muleya said in a statement.
“Worse still, the announcement that the police are investigating to ascertain whether or not the suspected criminal is a genuine police officer or not is worrisome because an ordinary member of the public believes that anyone wearing a Police uniform a law enforcement officer; only to have such a person commit such a gruesome crime.”
He said whether it was a police officer or a criminal, the shooter must be found and punished.
“There is need to get to the bottom of this matter and ensure that the culprit, whether a police officer or not, is brought to account for the criminal act of shooting individuals over a road traffic misunderstanding.”
Muleya said this case provides an opportunity to the Zambia Police Service command to prove to the public that police officers are not above the law and are not licensed to injure or kill citizens but to protect them by enforcing the laws of this country in a fair and just manner.
“Bringing the culprit to book will provide the police with an opportunity to allay fears that there are marauding criminals disguising themselves as police officers in uniforms and carrying out the duty of police officers in an arbitrary manner to the detriment of the rights and freedoms of innocent citizens,” Muleya said.
The Commission has called for an end to acts of lawlessness in order to promote an atmosphere of peace, law and order.
“The Commission wishes to join the Zambia Police Service in calling upon those who witnessed the near fatal incident to help the police with investigations by providing the necessary information. The Commission is also confident that the preliminary information gathered by the Police who rushed to the scene of the incident such as a nine millimetre empty cartridge of the pistol used, will assist them with their investigations.”
Meanwhile, the Commission has commended President Edgar Lungu for pardoning 30 inmates, including Freelance Journalist Chanda Chimba III on medical grounds.
“In addition to being in line with the Prisons Act as amended in 2004 and international human rights instruments, the pardoning of the terminally ill inmates is an act of compassion by the President and must be commended,” said Muleya.
“It is a well-known fact that the environment in most of the correctional facilities in Zambia is not conducive for human habitation and that can be a catalyst for worsening the conditions of inmates experiencing ill health. The right to life is sacred and it would be inhuman to deny terminally ill inmates an opportunity to seek and access better medical services and care outside correctional facilities.”