Some residents of Chingola’s Chiwempala area have complained that police are taking too long to charge rioting suspects who have been in custody since January 8 this year.
Last week, Chiwempala residents rioted and looted shops over suspected ritual killings that had been going on in the area.
But some family members of the riot suspects complained that their relatives had been in custody for over five days without being charged or taken to court.
“The situation is not that good. My brother has got a health condition. Sometimes, he fits! He wasn’t part of the riots. He was actually picked from my brother’s home in Chiwempala. He was arrested on Wednesday 8th January. They all gave statements on Friday, but until now, he had not been charged. I talked to one of the officers and he told me that no one will be released because those are the orders they have received from the high office. I was told that they might go to court on Thursday. It’s like they are not even arresting the actual people who are involved in the riots, but baleikata fye abantu abakayele! (They are arresting innocent ones!),” a woman, whose brother was arrested, told News Diggers! in an interview.
The family member, who sought anonymity, added that her brother had been tied up from the time of detention and that police were not allowing anyone to give them food on time.
“The police are not allowing people to have food on time and the same police are too sarcastic towards victims. My brother was beaten by one police officer over nothing and he has been tied up since Monday! His hands and feet are swollen,” she complained.
Another resident only identified as bana Musonda complained that her 29-year-old son, who is a bus driver, was picked up from a restaurant near the bus station where he operated from while he was having his lunch.
“It was on Wednesday when they picked him from a restaurant near a bus station where he works from. He is a bus driver. When the riots started, he was in the restaurant with his friends and that’s where he was picked from. I didn’t know anything because I live at the farm. I just noticed that every time I called his number, he wasn’t picking. So, someone told me to say the police were arresting people following those riots, which were there. That’s how I went to the police station to check and to take food and I found him. When I got there, the police refused me to give him food until 16:00 hours. When I asked what offence he had committed, they told me that they were still interrogating them and had not been charged. Even as I am talking now, I am at the police station,” complained bana Musonda.
But Copperbelt Province Police Commissioner Charity Katanga said the suspects had already been charged and the cases had already been presented to the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) and were only waiting for a go-ahead to take them to court.
She added that all those who were arrested had been charged with various offenses and were waiting to appear in court.
“We have presented the cases to the NPA and we are waiting for them to give a go-ahead. They were charged. There were various offenses: there was arson; breaking into a building; riots; theft; housebreaking and conduct likely to cause the breach of peace, among other cases. We are hoping that maybe by today (Wednesday), they can appear in court because we have forwarded the cases to the NPA,” said Katanga.