Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga has told Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo that suspected ritual killers seem to be turning into cats when in contact with the police.

And Katanga says when officers shot one suspected cat, it started reducing in size.

However, the Copperbelt Division Police chief says she believes the suspects are not ritual killers but “elements that just want to trouble people, rather than killing”.

“We receives a call from the public and we rushed there. Then they said ‘no he has gone inside the ceiling board. I was with paramilitary police officers, they entered the ceiling board [but] they couldn’t see him. After some time we just saw a cat walking and it disappeared,” Katanga narrated in her report to Kampyongo who arrived in Chingola, Saturday.

She said it was frustrating to police Chingola at the moment because suspected ritual killers were attacking too many houses at once.

She also narrated that when officers attempted to shoot one of the cats, it “started reducing”.

“Again, we went at another place and equally, they attempted to remove the iron sheets, that’s what they are doing and you will find that even at the other places in Nchanga, it is the same. So as indicated, it is one group and these criminals just want to destroy, to suffocate. Most of those cases I mention, like today we had 80 cases, yesterday we had 158. Those, others were just attended to and discharged. As the days are going, the cases are reducing. That is what is happening. Sometimes they do it spontaneously, really, it is like a well orchestrated move, we can’t rule out other interest groups which have come because it is like coordinated. They seem to have a common cause, they are fighting for something and other issues,” Katanga narrated.

“That is what is happening because really, if they were ritual murderers, they would have been finishing these people but it’s like they want to trouble them, again they come. So what is happening now to police is like zig zag. You just [get calls] like ‘here, here’ and you have about 50 calls at once. And sometimes they would even go back to the same houses. So yesterday when we were checking, we said now, we are going to kill one cat. Tried to fire at one but the cat started reducing, so sir, we will get there [salutes].”

And Katanga withdrew all neighbourhood watch groups in Chingola for security reasons.

Katanga said she was suspicious that some members of the neighbourhood watch could be behind the gassing of residents.

“The only people who are with us on the street during the night are neighbourhood watch and ever since they came on board, crime, especially gassing, has escalated. From today onwards, I have withdrawn them and if I ever find them on the street, they will regret,” she said.

“When there is an emergency, residents should quickly call the police and we will quickly respond to them. We have beefed up manpower and we hope to bring the suspects to book soon. I have said soon because we already have suspects, we are just trying to strike at the right time.”

Katanga also warned people who like inciting residents on social media that they would get a fair share of police anger.

She said the police, like the residents, are not happy with what is happening in Chingola because they were also affected.

“I will just break your legs if you bring protests to the police stations. I will even give fresh instructions to my officer to deal with you firmly. We will use maximum force this time around,” she said.

Katanga implored everyone to get involved and give relevant information to the police.

She said if the people want peace, they should follow law and order.

“Those saying you are going to protest, I am not going to allow the situation where people come to the police and protest, you will be dealt with ruthlessly because a police station is a serious place where people come to get justice. If you are aggrieved, visit the Officer Commanding’s office. When we have challenges like this, let’s come together see how we get out of it,” she said.

And Kampyongo commended the police for the efforts out in place to curb crimes in Chingola.

Ï just want to commend the efforts that you are putting, and I think we need to intensify foot patrols and the fact that you have decided to do away with the community for now, it will be helpful because you don’t know who is hiding where. There shouldn’t be resistance from them (neighbourhood watch) because the mandate they have is temporal,” said Kampyongo.