PHOTOGRAPHER Chellah Tukuta says Zambian police officers are professional, but work under instructions from cadres at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
And Tukuta has vowed that he will not stop talking on behalf of poor people.
Meanwhile, Tukuta has lamented that Chinese nationals are given special treatment in police cells.
Speaking when he addressed his followers on his Facebook page, Sunday, Tukuta said most Zambians had the wrong image of police officers.
“I want to start by thanking the police officers. It is amazing that the police officers handled me very well and when you are speaking for people, people themselves will stand with you. And some of the people that I was speaking for are the same police officers, the civil servants that I was speaking for and these people were like: ‘you know what Chellah, you really spoke for us.’ It’s not all the police officers that are corrupt. When you hear that police officers are corrupt, you cannot blame them, their conditions of service are not good. When I was arrested, I was told: ‘brother, stay calm; we are not here to injure you, just be calm,’ and I was calm. They took me to Lusaka Central Police; they got my phones and laptops for investigation purposes. But I would hear that there was one officer who was talking to a politician that, ‘we have done this.’ People have the wrong image of the Zambia Police, [people say] ‘they might poison you,’” Tukuta said.
“Our police officers are good people, but they also work under instructions. Now, they are working under instructions and they are instructed what to do by politicians who are cadres! The problem is that at Ministry-level, we put cadres and when we put cadres at Ministry-level, those cadres begin to abuse the law and begin to abuse the people in those Ministries. So, for example, if you look at the Ministry of Home Affairs, it is cadres that have been employed at the Ministry and those cadres just instruct our professional police officers to carry out duties. Police officers are human beings; they have families, they have work to protect and all those things. So, then, they can’t really do much because they don’t want to lose their jobs so we have got to respect them. And I want to commend the Zambia Police officers here in Lusaka at Lusaka Central Police. Very good officers, really handled me very well, encouraged me, told me to be strong. Actually, I received more encouragement from police officers saying, ‘this is a passing phase’.”
And Tukuta vowed that he would not be intimidated but continue to speak for poor people.
“I was arrested for calling out corrupt people and in some of the cases I can’t speak about them because they are in the courts of law and I don’t want to be charged with contempt. But I want you people to get something that Chellah Tukuta will continue to be the voice of the voiceless! God took in me in those cells so that I could go and listen to the people in the cells. Our brothers in the cells are suffering; in our country, cases take very long for some people, justice takes long. I was thinking to myself to say, ‘we have qualified lawyers in offices yet justice takes so long…Does it mean that people are being incompetent or what.’ So, you begin to wonder and ask yourself questions. I must confess that I found cases that people are really detained for some of the cases they are not even aware of,” he said.
“And for me, I am going to continue speaking for the poor in this country. I am not going to be corrupted; I am not going to be intimidated, scared, I am not going to be frustrated. My spirit continues to be high because we want a better Zambia. A Zambia where our kids grow up, our grandchildren will know we fought for a great Zambia and we have to defend a better Zambia for them. We have to fight for that great nation. There is a lot of poverty in this country. And because the poverty is too much, Zambians will continue to suffer. Zambians are suffering; there is too much corruption going on, we cannot keep quiet. There is so much injustice in our country we cannot keep quiet. Zambia belongs to all of us and not a few individuals.”
Meanwhile, Tukuta wondered why foreigners in police cells were allowed to go in with beddings and mattresses, while Zambian suspects were denied the same privileges.
“Madam Commissioner on the Copperbelt (Charity Katanga), it was interesting when I was at Ndola Central Police…do you know how foreigners were treated? When we went to the cells ifwe (us), as Zambians, we were not allowed to go in with blankets or mattresses or anything. And when you go with shoes, nichosa nsapato (they tell you to take off your shoes), but we had a Chinese, who was detained and came in with shoes and I challenged the Chinese to take off the shoes and told him, ‘we are all equal here.’ Zambians entered without shoes; why should a Chinese go in the cells with shoes? I am not being racial. Some Somalians went in with cigarettes, they went in with their own blankets, mattresses and they were treated like kings! Zambians in police cells were suffering and foreigners were enjoying in those cells. And I was saying that, ‘look at the way you are treating the foreigners, you don’t touch them, but you come to touch us’,” complained Tukuta.