Southern Province police commissioner Bonny Kapeso says he has rescinded his decision to punish the people of Batoka by permanently closing down their community police station after residents rioted.

Batoka residents on Monday made a citizen’s arrest on a knife wielding Lusaka man, Ketious Kabwe, suspected to be a ritual killer. But the officer-in-charge at Batoka police took over the suspect and transferred him to Pemba, where he was detained overnight, a move which infuriated residents.

Accusing the police of covering up a crime, the residents mobilised under the cover of night and burnt down the Batoka police Station.

Appearing on Byta FM’s Chuundu Chaitwa programme today, Kapeso said he was withdrawing his officers from Batoka adding that none of the residents would be allowed to report a crime in Choma.

He said the decision was final and had the blessings of the Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja, because the people of Southern Province needed to be taught a lesson and needed to realise that he was not in the province to joke with them.

Yesterday however, Kapeso said that decision had been reversed.

The decision to withdraw officers at Batoka Police Station has been rescinded following a fruitful meeting between police and residents of Batoka. And it has been resolved that the police post should be renovated in two weeks time and police manpower be increased from three to six in order to police the more than 17,000 people in the area,” Kapeso said.

He said Chief Choma begged him to rescind the decision.

“Among the people who pleaded for continued presence of police officers included Chief Choma and several government workers. There was a massive turn out by concerned residents, young and old respectively,” said Kapeso.