And the civil society in Zambia has demanded for the immediate release of the arrested activists who include ACA programmes officer Bonwell Mwewa and Singer Fumba Chama, commonly known as Pilato,
Pilato who was in Livingstone conducting civic education activities under the Yellow Card campaign, was arrested earlier around 13:30 hours and charged for unlawful assembly before he was denied police bond.
Police who were accompanied by PF youths when they arrested Pilato near a place known as Manda Hill, quickly moved him Libuyu Police Station to Livingstone Central Police where he was detained.
Meanwhile, Miti was arrested at around 23:00 hours for allegedly assaulting a police officer when she went to Livingstone Central Police Station to visit Pilato.
The arrested trio is being legally represented by former LAZ president Linda Kasonde and are expected to appear in court soon.
And in a joined statement, ActionAid Zambia, Zitukule Consortium, GEARS, Chapter One Foundation, Chikondi Foundation, and ACA demanded for their immediate release.
“The arrest of Chama Fumba popularly known as “Pilato” in Livingstone at a Roman Catholic Church premise is unwarranted, illegal and an assault not only to the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms and liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Zambia Constitution but also to the survival of democracy. The Constitution Amendment Act number 2 of 2016 under Article 193(e) mandates the police to uphold the Bill of Rights which includes article 20 and 21 providing for freedoms of expression, association and assembly respectively. Clearly, the police have also veered from its Constitution functions and responsibilities of upholding the Bill of Rights. This is unacceptable,” read the joint statement.
“We are particularly concerned with the selective application of the public order provisions in the country. Political party cadres especially those from the ruling party have times without number held meetings and public assemblies without notifying the police yet no action has been taken against them. However, the police move at supersonic speed to arrest and detain other citizens especially those with divergent views to those of the party in power. We are aware that there is a scheme to silence civil activism in the country as we move towards the 2021 general elections. This wont work! The only offence that Chama Fumba has committed is to bring out the failings of this regime including corruption, bad governance and abuse of state power.”
The NGOs stated that: “It is our considered view that Pilato, Laura and Bornwell have been wrongly detained. Why can’t the police learn from the many previous court rulings which have clearly gone against them in matters involving citizens civil liberties. It is irresponsible for the police service to continue engaging in unlawful acts which cost millions of Kwacha to government in compensation. Be rest assured that our conviction for an accountable and democratic government will not be gaged in police cells; and the abusers of our public resources whom the police have chosen to protect and defend will not have it easy. We as civil activists have a mandate to educate the public on various national matters. As civil society, we demand that Fumba Chama, Laura Miti and Bornwell Mwewa must be released unconditionally and all charges dropped forthwith.”