Police must explain involvement in gassing – Kambwili

NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili says the allegation that Chingola District Officer Commanding Peter Miselo and Criminal Investigations Officer (DCIO) Wellington Falanga have been implicated in the gassing incidences and that the two officers are under investigations will cause members of the public to get more suspicious of law enforcement officers.

Police in Lusaka have recorded warn and caution statements from Miselo and Falanga after the due was allegedly implicated in a case of protecting a gassing suspect who is also a PF Information Publicity Secretary (IPS).

And Copperbelt Province Commissioner of Police Charity Katanga said she was not in a position to comment on the matter because she was not the one handling the case adding that the gassing incidences in Chingola were partly investigated by officers from Force Headquarters in Lusaka.

Kambwili, in an interview, said police’s resistance in giving details of the findings of the investigations were raising suspicions.

“It is very sad if indeed some police officers have been involved in these gassings and indeed if the warn and caution statement has been collected from them. What surprises me is that when the Copperbelt police Commissioner was asked to state whether some police officers particularly the DCIO and the Officer Commanding have been subjected to a warn and caution statement, she said ‘I don’t know [because] that is being dealt by people from Head Office. That is very suspicious. And that is why people are now speculating that it is actually the government which is involved,” Kambwili said.

“When people come from another province to do an investigation, the first people they report to is the office of the commissioner and say ‘we have been from Lusaka Division or Western Division to come and investigate this matter like this gassing which has gone all over the country.’ They will give them permission and also inform the stations within her jurisdiction that these people are coming for inquiries. [and again] after the inquiries, the first person they will brief about the investigations when leaving is the divisional commander of that province. Whatever they have done or whatever action they have taken will debrief the divisional commander who in this case is Mrs Katanga. Now the question that begs an answer [is] why is Mrs Katanga saying ‘go and ask the police spokesperson,’ and the police spokesperson is saying ‘go and ask Mrs Katanga.’ I can smell a rat.”

Kambwili said government through the Ministry of Affairs should be on top of things and reveal the master-minders of the gassing.

“Can we be told the truth by the government and the Ministry of Home Affairs and the police on what is happening with these gassings? Who is in charge of this gassing? As I said, there is a volunteer who is saying ‘I knew the planning of the gassing started five years ago’ but we have not been told whether this volunteer has been called by the police to go and give evidence. If we are not careful, this gassing will degenerate and a lot of innocent lives will be lost. For example, in Chingola, we lost a miner who was knocking off from work around 02:00 hours and he met people who were patrolling and they beat him up to death saying he was one of the gassers and yet the man was just knocking off from work. And a lot of other people have been killed while others have been burnt in communities. But the blood of those people will be on the hands of the police and the government because they are not telling us the truth,” Kambwili said.

“How can the police commissioner for Copperbelt say that she doesn’t know about the case which is being investigated under her jurisdiction? What a way of answering. It just shows unprofessionalism in our sister on the Copperbelt. But we may not blame her because maybe that is the instruction she has been given by the powers that be not to say anything over that issue. Sometimes we may be blaming her for being unprofessional and yet she is working under instructions. So, if she has been commanded by the IG or anybody else not to say anything, it is difficult for her to say anything. And if indeed Mr Miselo and the DCIO are involved, it’s very unfortunate. But for me, I will give them a benefit of doubt until we are told exactly what is going on. Although it’s very suspicious because the Provincial commissioner chickens out to say, ‘go and ask the spokesperson,’ and then the official spokesperson of the police is also saying ‘go and ask Mrs Katanga.”

And Kambwili wondered why the police have not arrested or summoned those claiming to have information on the gassing masterminds adding that if it were him, action would have already been taken.

“They would have already come to arrest me and say ‘give us the information.’ There could have been police surrounding my house saying we are arresting you for ‘alarming the nation and what have you.’ That is why I am saying that I am smelling a big rat over this issue. Not those small rats which people eat but those big ones which in Bemba we call Insengele,” said Kambwili.

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