TWENTY-FOUR people of Solwezi’s Kyawama Township in North Western Province were yesterday arrested for riotous behavior while 15 others sustained injuries and were admitted in hospital.

The riot, which lasted for more than four hours started when the council police demolished some venders’ makeshift stores in line with public health provisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Confirming the development in an interview, Sunday, North Western police Commissioner Hudson Namachila said of the 15 casualties, two were in a critical condition while three were police officers who had been treated and discharged.

“What happened was the marketeers were reacting to the council directive for all the venders who were selling along the roadside to move into the main market. They have been, for the last three weeks, talking with leaders of market association and the council seemed to have reached an agreement with them to move into the market. Some marketeers got divided when they found out that the council demolished their makeshift [stores]. They reacted to the action and they started fighting amongst themselves because others were happy with the move taken by the council,” Namachila narrated.

“During riot, 13 shops were looted and various items have been looted and as police, we have made some recoveries except we have not quantified the item because recovery process is still on. We have arrested 24 rioters and there are about 15 casualties who are currently admitted in Solwezi General Hospital. 12 that are still admitted, two are critical and one is in the Intensive Care Unit while the rest are out of danger. Let me also stated that of these same 15, three were police officers who were treated and discharged.”

Namachila further warned the residents who wanted to take the law in their own hands that they would be arrested.

“As police, we shall not allow those who would like to take the law in their own hands and disregard the public health orders. Look, the council was doing a noble thing because they engaged the people in the
interest of public health. They said because of the COVID 19, we cannot afford to have a market which is so populated and part of the road was covered by marketeers and it was not good for public health. So in the interest of such, the council decided to do that and they did a right thing by first engaging the marketeers. I want to urge members of the public to coorperate with the council authority and public health workers because they want to prevent the COVID 19,” said Namachila.