HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says police arrested two suspected masterminds of the gassing incidents in the latest raid, bringing the total of those nabbed so far to 26.
And Kampyongo says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema should stop worrying if he has nothing to do with the criminal activities recorded in the country, saying the police have no time to waste on people who are not connected to the gassing incidents.
Meanwhile, General Education Minister David Mabumba has urged schools to strengthen security measures by policing their schools.
The minister said this at a joint press briefing with Information and Broadcasting Services minister Dora Siliya at Government Complex, Wednesday.
“I can confirm that as we speak, we have about 26 suspects who have been arrested so far and these suspects across the country are now appearing before the courts of law. What is interesting to note is that some of these suspects have been charged under the anti-terrorism Act, Section 9…and these two suspects namely Brian Maipambe and Lazarus Mwape. These two have been charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Some of these suspects are appearing in court for offences such as murder and interestingly, these two suspects are equally appearing for murder cases,” Kampyongo said.
“With regard to the ongoing investigations, the latest we have is that one suspect on the Copperbelt has been arrested. The layers of these suspects are now unfolding properly because this suspect who has been arrested on the Copperbelt today is one of those that are coordinating these activities. As you know, these people have been operating in groups and they have got various coordinators. And sooner than later, we shall start zeroing in on the motives of those that are behind these activities.”
According to details obtained from Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo, Maipambe and Mwape are facing four counts of acts of terrorism while Evans Mulenga is facing one count of acts of terrorism.
Another accused, Enock Kayambi, is facing murder charges.
And Kampyongo dispelled social media reports suggesting that blood is drawn from victims of gassing when they are taken to the hospital.
“I also want to take this opportunity to appeal and warn those that are generating social media allegations against the medical personnel; there is some social media circulation that victims of gassing who are going to various medical centres and hospitals are having their blood drawn by the doctors who are also involved in these gassing activities…,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kampyongo said police were not targeting any political individuals in their investigations on the gassing incidents.
“News Diggers, we have seen one of your screaming headlines. Maybe you can tell us, at what point did you hear the Minister of Home Affairs accusing somebody? You have got a screaming headline ‘HH accuses Kampyongo’ and you know what is in that story. Have you ever covered a story where this Minister cited any individual, including the money that’s stolen?” he asked.
“I want to make an appeal to all of you journalists that it won’t help you by sensationalizing the matters you are reporting on. And I want to make this very clear, it’s not a threat that as we are zeroing in to deal with these matters, you might be called in to come and justify certain stories that you are carrying because what you are putting in members of the public is creating opinions and perceptions. So, you go and tell that man you have quoted in your newspaper that we have got no time to waste on targeting individuals that are not part of these activities. He should only be worried if he has anything to do with these activities. He is a free citizen.”
And Mabumba urged schools to put up stringent security measures to protect pupils from the targeted spraying of an unknown chemical.
“There is no position that has been taken as for now as to whether we should close schools. The information that we have shared with our school managers is sufficient enough for them to begin a journey of strengthening policing within the schools. I don’t expect, when I go to a school, to find a gate open. I don’t expect schools to allow anybody to riot in the schools. I expect each one, starting from pupils to teachers, to be alert. And we expect the schools to work with the communities because these suspects are from the communities,” said Mabumba.