Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) executive director Boniface Cheembe has expressed concern over suspected ritual killings and riots in Chingola.

In a statement, Monday, Cheembe said the deployment of defence forces to Chongola was a sign of how big the problem was.

“The reported incidences of riot behaviour, where citizens have taken the law in their own hands-on account of reports of suspected ritual killings or pure acts of criminality on the part of some citizens has been a concern to SACCORD. Other reports suggesting the gassing with unknown chemicals of citizens leading to death has equally been of concern to SACCORD. The deployment of senior members of the Zambia Police Service (ZPS) and Zambia Army through the Minister of Homes Affairs, Minister of Defense and the Inspector General of Police (IG) by the Republican President Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu was important as it shows the gravity of the matter and the seriousness and concern that the Government attaches to the plight of the people of Chingola and other parts of the Copperbelt,” Cheembe stated.

He stated that authorities needed to be updating Chingola residents and the nation in a timely manner on progress made in combatting the occurrences.

“What is happening still requires further understanding although the law enforcement agencies have made great headway and sooner rather than later, the nation will be informed. However, what is also clear is that there is still need to enhance and strengthen the level of information dissemination to citizens of Chingola and other parts of the Copperbelt on what is happening and the progress being made to arrest the situation so that law and order, peace, tranquility and stability is fully restored,” Cheembe stated.

He stated that the police and other law enforcement agencies should further increase the number of officers on the ground to ensure the restoration of peace, law and order.

“SACCORD would like to appeal to the citizens in Chingola and other parts of the Copperbelt to avoid taking the law into their own hands as this jeopardizes the value and principle of law and order in the country. We make this appeal with the full understanding of the challenges that the people of Chingola are going through where fear and insecurity is concerned. However, we believe that with our second recommendation and appeal to the Zambia Police Service and law enforcement agencies to increase the number of officers sent on the ground to ensure the restoration of peace and law and order. This should appease the citizens to ensure that any suspicious acts or individuals are immediately reported to those who are charged with the responsibility of restoring normalcy in the affected areas,” he added.

“We also want to appeal to citizens who may be involved in circulating videos or false information, whether deliberate or through unintended consequences, to cease such as acts and instead, work closely with the law enforcement agencies so that information is better coordinated. Related to this, we make a strong appeal to the Zambia Police Service to give daily updates to the citizens in Chingola on what is happening. Citizens in the affected areas and the country must accept and support the role bestowed on the ZPS and other security agencies to restore peace, law and order, stability and normalcy in Chingola and other parts of the Copperbelt. In other words, there has to a clear channel of communication in the affected areas by the law enforcement agencies to avoid confusion.”

And Cheembe stated that there is need for the country to engage in prayers.

“SACCORD would further want to recommend that the nation needs to engage in prayers and thereby support morally and spiritually the people of Chingola and other parts of the Copperbelt. Furthermore, the country will need to start preparing trauma healing programmes for these communities as an effort to bring about back community trust and healing which is key for reconciliation following this tragic episode. In short, there will is need to invest in a strong peace-building programme for the citizens of Chingola and other parts of the Copperbelt which is paramount for the people and the country to continue benefitting from the mineral and natural resources of the district and province through various developmental programmes,” stated Cheembe.

He also conveyed his condolences to all the families that may have lost their members as a result of the riots in Chingola.