A COMBINED team of defense and security personnel has apprehended 50 people in Lusaka’s Matero Township for idle and disorderly conduct.

Meanwhile, four people were killed by mobs in Lusaka and Central Province between Saturday and Sunday.

Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo, however, stated that the Police command had observed a positive reduction in mob justice incidents within Lusaka.

“50 people have been apprehended by a joined patrol team of Defence and Security officers in Matero for idle and disorderly conduct. These are unruly groupings arming themselves with offensive weapons moving round communities on pretext of patrolling but end up harrassing innocent people of which some have died in instant mob justice,” Katongo stated.

She said some people had been killed by mobs on suspicions that they were behind gassing incidents.

“Three people were lynched by mobs in separate incidences in Matero’s Katambalala area, Zingalume and Hill side area and were only rescued by the joint patrol team of officers. However, one male adult among those rescued aged between 40 and 45 years who was attacked in Hillside area only identified as Emmanuel later died in Matero Level one Hospital around 02:00 hours. The body has been taken to UTH mortuary awaiting identification and postmortem. One suspect has been arrested and investigations have continued. Another male person aged between 30 and 35 years was murdered by a mob yesterday around 21:20 hours in Chikondano area on suspicion of chemical spraying. The body is in UTH mortuary. Matero also recorded four reports of unruly behavior where mobs blocked some roads in Chingwere, Hill side, Maiteneke and Katambalala areas. However, officers of patrol dispersed the mobs and order was restored,” Katongo stated.

“Four reports of chemical spraying were received by Matero Police with a total of 16 victims. These cases were recorded from George compound, Salima road in Kasamba area and Chunga Dump site area. Emmasdale Police recorded three reports of chemical spraying with seven victims. These reports were received from Chazanga and Chipata overspill. Most of the reports received by many other police stations involving chemical spraying could not be verified as in some instances people raised alarm due to fear.”

In a related development, police in Lusaka picked a body of an unidentified male person suspected to have been murdered and burnt by a mob.

“This incidence is suspected to have happened between 04:30 hours and 05:00 hours at Mponda village, 10 kilometers from Kasisi School. The remains are in UTH mortuary. And yesterday in Katende area, a mob descended on a person suspecting him to be among people behind chemical spraying who was later known to be a mental patient of Kanakantapa area. He was rescued by a member of the neighbourhood watch who was also assaulted on accusations that he was protecting a criminal. Police officers rushed to the scene to rescue the victims and later relatives of the mental patient victim produced documentation to prove that the victim was a mental patient. This happened yesterday, 15th February, 2020 around 09:00 hours,” Katongo stated.

“Meanwhile, in continued investigations with a view of bringing criminals behind the killing of suspects in chemical spraying and malicious damage to property, police in Matero have so far arrested two suspects in a report of Malicious damage in which a motor vehicle Toyota Land cruiser was damaged by a mob in Lusaka 11th February, 2020 on suspicion that occupants were among people spraying chemicals while in instant mob justice related deaths, one suspect is in custody. Police have instituted investigations in all cases of murder recorded as a result of recent instant mob justice as well as those of malicious damage to property. All those involved in these crimes should know that their days are numbered because as police we shall not leave any stone unturned.”

Meanwhile, in a report from Central Province, Katongo stated that an unidentified male person aged about 37 years was also murdered by a mob and the body was picked up from Katondo Primary School premises in Kabwe.

“This happened around 23:50 hours and the deceased was found with a burnt face and fingers. Meanwhile, Police in Kabwe received seven reports of malicious administering of chemical substance in Pollen, High ridge, and Ngungu areas in which victims were referred to health facilities for medial attention while Mumbwa district recorded eight reports which are still unverified. In Mabumba area of Luapula Province, a mental patient was also assaulted along Samfya road by a mob on mere suspicion and was only rescued by police officers. He survived with injuries. Meanwhile, in Chiengi District near the border, an unidentified male person aged between 50 and 60 years was yesterday around 21:00 hours murdered by a mob. Officers who went to pick the body were blocked by youths who blocked the road and police fired tear gas canisters to disperse them,” Katongo stated.

Katongo who appealed to members of the public to restrain themselves from taking part in instant mob justice.

“We continue appealing to members of the public to always restrain themselves from taking part in instant mob justice. Compared to yesterday, we have observed a positive reduction of mob justice incidences within Lusaka although we still have some concerns. We therefore, call upon all stakeholders in the fight against crime to continue preaching peace and discourage instant mob justice. Even in instances where there is overwhelming evidence that someone committed or was about to commit an offence, it remains unlawful for people to take the law into their own hands,” stated Katongo.