Police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo has refuted reports that police in Ndola required UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to obtain a police permit before attending a church service.

In a statement, Monday, Katongo stated that police were merely trying to verify if Hichilema would indeed
attend mass at St Joseph of Cupertino Catholic Church in Chifubu Township of Ndola so that they could provide security.

“We wish to reiterate our earlier position, as indicated by the Copperbelt Police Commissioner, that Police on the Copperbelt did not at any point demand for a permit from the UPND for their leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema to attend Mass at St Joseph of Cupertino Catholic Church in Chifubu Township of Ndola yesterday, 12th May, 2019. Members of the public may wish to know that whenever any Political leader or any individual with a following visits an area, it is the duty of the Police to monitor the security situation to ensure that law and order prevails. According to the program availed to the Police earlier, the UPND leader was scheduled to attend a church service at Christ the King Pentecostal church but on the material day, which is Sunday yesterday, Police received information that the UPND leader was to attend church at St Joseph’s Catholic Church. Upon receiving the information, some Police Officers went to St Joseph’s Catholic Church where they met the Parish Chairperson to verify on the information that Mr Hakainde Hichilema was to attend mass at the said church,” Katongo stated.

“The reason for our officers to do so was not to ask for a permit from the UPND but for them to verify whether Mr Hichilema would be at the said Church to attend Mass, the information which was essential for the officers to monitor the security situation. As the officers were inquiring from the Parish Chairperson, there were also some UPND cadres in the Parish Office who at some point interrupted the conversation and asked whether there was need for a permit when it was a church program.”

She stated that pictures circulating online purported to be depicting what transpired on Sunday were a misrepresentation of facts.

“We further wish to state that the pictures circulating on social media showing Police officers with Mr Hichilema purportedly depicting what transpired at the church are a misrepresentation of facts as the officers who went to the church were plain clothed officers and not uniformed. Furthermore, Mr Hichilema was in a suit and not the attire showing on the photos. We urge the UPND to own up and give a true reflection of what transpired at the Church as opposed to twisting facts with a view of misleading the general public,” stated Katongo.