Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga has refuted assertions by Kitwe District Commissioner Binwell Mpundu that the Command does not have enough officers to combat gang crimes in the city.

And Katanga has called on members of the public not to report criminal matters to any other office in the country expect a police station, saying police officers are trained professionals who execute their mandate without fear or favour.

Last week, Mpundu featured on a community talk show on Kitwe’s Flava FM where callers expressed concern over the continued attacks on unsuspecting citizens by purported members of some notorious gangs and in response, Mpundu observed that the Police Command in the area was overstretched.

But commenting on the DC’s observation in an interview, Katanga fumed at Mpundu, saying the Command was not incapacitated at all adding that her officers in the area were well equipped for any kind of undertaking.

“The Police are professionals who execute their duties without fear or favour or any interference and we rely on empirical statistics, cases reported to police where the victim even gives an account. But to say police are overstretched, I don’t want to give credence to anything. Us we talk about statistics; from this period to this period, this is what was reported. And criminals and gangs are two different things. For example the Tokota Boys, they have their own characteristics. If it is just ordinary criminals they also have their own characteristics. And when you talk about violent crimes, in homes, you have cases where people are assaulted at home. You have cases where people are assaulted in the bars… that’s why am saying it becomes difficult even to say police are overstretched or not,” Katanga said.

“We are not short of man power. But if someone who is not a Police Chief is telling you that you do not have enough man power then what am I supposed to say? Because like I have said, when we are dealing with these things, we look at statistics and it’s not just any offence because even in the case of assault, you have… other assaults can be occasioned by two people quarreling then someone us assaulted. Then someone can be walking in the night and he’s attacked by just criminals. So if they are attacked by a criminal, are you going to say there are gangs in Kitwe? Because walking in a certain area may be dangerous. But for gangs that’s why we give examples of Tokota boys because it’s clear and you can even see the characteristics that they are sponsored, they are on drugs. But if any crime that has been committed, before I even open my mouth, people have concluded that this one is gang-related then we are going to have a challenge.”

Katanga wondered where Mpundu had gotten that information.

“Many a time you have called police to say ‘can you confirm’ on a certain thing and we say ‘okay here we have not yet received a report’. Because when you come to the police to report, they would have sobered up and they will give an account. If it is in a certain area you say ‘has crime risen in this area?’ You look at the reports which have been there. Now when you talk of cases of even assault, they are quite completed, in the home a wife can be battered, so are you going to say police are not patrolling or now there is what? They are saying police in Kitwe are overstretched, how are they overstretched? It is the same police officers there who wiped the Tokota and no increment has come. So how come today they are overstretched? The same police officers are equal to the task,” Katanga said.

She advised members of the public not to report criminals cases to the DC or any other person’s office except the police station.

“Police officers are mandated by the Constitution to enforce law and order and the police stations which are gazetted is there. So through you the press, let members of the public report the cases to the police so that police handle the situation and also assess. But how are we going to assess if people report elsewhere? Because sometimes what happens is instead of reporting to the police, a statement would have not been recorded, they go and report elsewhere. So then can police be condemned to say that they are not working when they don’t have a report? The answer is no. So members of the public should report to designated offices… it is the same police police officers under my leadership as Police Commissioner here, we are the ones who wiped Tokota. So we are not overstretched in any way… if you just see a woman is stoned then you just say no she has been stoned by a gang. We need to look at the facts after a person has given an account,” said Katanga.