A DEPUTY officer in-charge at Chawama Police Station testified in court, Tuesday, how six people, who were among rioters in Lusaka’s John Howard area, were apprehended when they refused to disperse despite him declaring a “riot after proclamation”.

Dominic Makandauko told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he made the proclamation when the crowd, which did not want to disperse despite several pleas to do so, started overpowering police officers.

Meanwhile, another officer narrated to the Court how a member of the community alerted him about a person who was being beaten and about to be burnt by a mob in Madalitso area near Chawama Market.

Davies Mpala, who is also stationed at Chawama Police Station, however, added that when he got to the scene, he found that the person had already been burnt to death.

This is a matter in which Fanizio Banda, a general worker of Chawama; Felix Mukuka, a bus driver of John Howard Compound; Laston Zulu vendor of Chawama compound; Kennedy Chingebe of Jack compound; Marlon Mumba of Chawama and Mathews Chinga, a bus conductor of John Howard, are charged with rioting after proclamation.

It is alleged that on February 13, this year, in the Lusaka, the six, jointly and whilst acting together with others unknown and being in a riotous assembly, took part to riot and assembly after the expiration of a reasonable time from the making of the proclamation to disperse.

When the matter came up yesterday before Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale for trial, Mpala, 42, testified that on the material day around 01:20 hours, he received a call from a member of the community, who informed him that a person was being beaten and was about to be burnt.

“He told me that there was a person, who was being beaten along Chifundo road near Madalitso in Chawama by a mob, and that the same (person) was about to be burnt,” he narrated.

Mpala said acting on the report, he assigned four officers to quickly move in to the said place and report back to him on the situation immediately.

He, however, said that when the officers went back, they reported to him that they found and saw the said person burning in tyres, but since the officers were few, they could not manage the crowd who started stoning them.

Mpala testified that around 02:00 hours, he received another call from a member of the community in Jack Compound, who reported that a car had been burnt.

He said as the situation was becoming volatile, he decided to call his officer-in-charge at Chawama Police Station and the deputy officer-in-charge who divided them in groups.

“I joined the group for the officer in charge, which went to Madalitso where a person was burnt. We managed to retrieve the person, who was burnt from the fire, but he was already dead and took him to UTH,” Mpala said.

And Makandauko testified that on the material day, around 02:00 hours, Mpala called him to the effect that the situation in Chawama had become volatile.

“At the time he was talking to me, there was a report that a person had been burnt. Without delay, I put on my police uniform and immediately drove to Chawama Police Station. After arriving, I learnt that officers had already gone to Madalitso and I immediately rushed to the scene. I found other officers there in a situation that was very tense! Amidst stone throws, the officers managed to retrieve the body and went back to Chawama Police Station,” he said.

Mukandauko said it was whilst at the police station that information was received around 04:00 hours that a mob had formed in Chawama’s John Howard and were blocking roads and burning tyres.

“I was then assigned to lead a group officers and we found a huge crowd, which started throwing stones at the police. They also threw sticks and hurled insults at us,” he said.

The witness said he attempted to plead with the crowd to disperse, but that the pleas fell on deaf ears.

Mukandauko said when danger became imminent on the officers as they were being overpowered, he declared a riot after proclamation in the name of the Republican President to force the mob to disperse, around 09:30 hours.

He added that the proclamation was made once after several pleas.

Mukandauko said he emphasized to the crowd that the police would use force to disperse those who would not do so.

He said 30 minutes after declaring a riot after proclamation, and people were not dispersing, he instructed his officers to charge at the crowd and make possible apprehension.

The State witness said at the end of the operation, six people were apprehended from John Howard in relation to the matter.