POLICE in Eastern Province say 33 people in Chipata were on Saturday evening gassed in separate incidences.

Eastern Province deputy police commissioner Geoffrey Kunda disclosed told News Diggers! in an interview that those affected were from Chimwemwe Compound, Busekela, Jubeva College of Education and others from a named farm in the area.

“I wish to confirm that yesterday, around 21:00 hours, we received reports from Chimwemwe Compound, Busekela and also Jubeva College of Education that they had suspected to have been gassed. So we assembled and for Chimwemwe compound, 16 people who stay in the surrounding area but different apartments were suspected to have been gassed. Then they were taken to Chipata Clinic but later on they were referred to Chipata Central Hospital where they were attended to. In the process again, within the same period, that is between 19:00 hours and 21:00 hours, there was also a report from Busekela Research station where a family of five were allegedly gassed, so they are a family of five who include the mother and four children. Then these ones from Chimwemwe, they are a family of five also, so that included five adults and 11 children,” Kunda explained.

“Then from Jubeva College of Education, there were four female students who are staying in some boarding houses there. So they also complained that they had some strange feeling and suspected to have been gassed. So they were also taken to Chipata Central hospital where they were attended to. Later on we also received a report from Mutini farm through a female person that they suspected also to have been gassed and that one of them was in a bad state. They were eight of them, four children and four adults. So they were also taken to Chipata Central hospital and we are aware that they were attended to. By this morning when our officer checked these centres, the district hospital and general hospital, the victims had actually been discharged. For Musekela, I think only the mother of those four children appeared to have been in a serious condition but she has also been discharged.”

Kunda said police were still investing the cause of these incidences and urged members of the public to be alert.

“We don’t actually understand as police this sort of thing, we are still investigating. We are carrying out some patrols and other investigations to ensure that we are able to bring to book some of these culprits who are doing this. So basically, that is the information that we can confirm on what had happened last (Saturday) night. Then my word of advice is that people need to be very cautious. They need to ensure that their homes are secured and even avoiding unnecessary movements in the night and they should ensure that whoever comes to visit them is well known,” Kunda said, asking residents to desist from taking the law into their own hands.

And asked if there had been arrests, Kunda said it was difficult to identify suspects.

“No, no one has been arrested yet but investigations are still going on. You know, even the people who informed us, they were also not realising who was doing these things. All they could do was smell some strange smell and feeling because some of them were chocked and some of them were even vomiting. So they couldn’t spot anyone and they couldn’t even find anything either. So this is the situation as at now,” said Kunda.