POLICE Spokesperson Esther Katongo says some PF cadres who stormed Lusaka Central Police and beat up some unsuspecting officers on duty, getting away with undisclosed amounts of money belonging to one of them, have been arrested.
In an interview, Katongo confirmed the incident where a PF official mobilised cadres and raided Lusaka Division Police where they an attack on duty, saying an investigation was still ongoing.
When called to clarify whether the incident at Lusaka Division she was referring to during her TV interview earlier was the one where police have launched a manhunt for Patriotic Front Eastern Province Youth Chairperson Emmanuel J Banda, commonly known as Jay Jay, Katongo responded in the affirmative.
“There was an incident which happened, where there are some people suspected to be PF cadres who went to Lusaka Division to go and cause confusion. There is a matter where one of the members was involved, which the Commissioner, didn’t tell me but they were complaining about something to do with their member. So now they went and caused confusion at Lusaka Division. I think it was everywhere where it was reported that the police fired teargas to disperse them. So they went to the police and started causing confusing and police had to discharge teargas,” Katongo said, in an interview with News Diggers.
“It happened on a Saturday two weeks ago. I don’t know if they beat up the police because I don’t have that information I was getting everything from the police commissioner. So that is why I said it in general that they went and caused confusion at Lusaka Division. Lusaka Division and Lusaka Central Police are at the same place.”
On Saturday last week, Banda mobilised armed PF cadres and stormed Lusaka Central Police where they beat up some unsuspecting officers on duty and got away with an undisclosed amount of money, belonging to one of the officers.
Sources say the incident happened after the C5 anti-robbery squad shot and killed a suspect earlier, who happens to be a relative to Banda. The suspected robber died after sustaining four bullet wounds.
This infuriated the PF official who demanded to meet the officers involved in the shooting incident. However, the officers did not comply, prompting Banda to mobilise cadres and besiege the provincial police headquarters, with at least one visible firearm.
Noting the arrival of Banda, armed with a gun, some officers scampered into hiding while one of the officers, Ian Mbewe who is charge of anti-motor vehicle theft unit, fell victim to a thorough beating.
Banda and his gang then left the police station and went on the run, before officers could mobilise to take him on.
Speaking earlier when she appeared on Diamond TV’s Diamond Live program, Monday, Katongo refuted allegations that the service sided with the ruling party.
“Those that attacked a radio station in Mpika, those that attacked a journalist in Southern Province, are they from the opposition? Where are they? They were arrested. That is where the problem is because if it is something to do with the ruling party, people will not pay much attention no matter what you do as action from the police. Even you the media you want to turn a blind eye to show that nothing happened. So we shouldn’t rush to say you are favouring the PF. We are not favouring anyone, that is why it is said that police officers are not supposed to be part of the active politics because we serve everyone in this country. The problem is that there are these strategies that political parties are using and the other strategies to smear mud on the police institution,” Katongo said.
“You heard the statement from the Inspector General of Police on the people who were protesting in Mufulira, he was referring to those incidents. The one which happened at Lusaka Division which is still under investigation and there are people who have been picked up. We don’t want to give that information yet because we are netting people, we want to arrest more people. But were those from the UPND? So why should people say police always side with the ruling party? Did we arrest anyone in Southern Province when there was that conduct likely to cause a breach of peace? Inciting of violence when people were doing all sorts of things when the Head of State was passing? No one is talking or complaining. No one is saying ‘police why haven’t you arrested those people?’”
Katongo wondered why people were always mute when the service took action against PF but cried foul whenever they applied the law on opposition parties.
“In police we have our own regulations, and for us an arrest is not always necessary, the problem is that when we apply the same phrase when it is on the opposition, people will be okay with it. When we apply it to the ruling party, people will cry foul. Why should it be like that? The law has to be applied fairly and we have been fair when applying this law. When we arrest somebody from PF, people will be quiet. When we arrest someone from the opposition, people talk. It should not be like that,” she said.
Katongo said the cadres who were given a permit to protest against those opposing Bill 10 at parliament grounds last month were given guidelines to follow.
“We still have people coming to the police to say ‘thank you for what you have done’. The issue is the nature of our work. We can’t be overpowered by cadres that is why there is peace in this country. People will not appreciate the police. What transpired was that before that protest the protestors had already written to the police commissioner in Lusaka and they were not allowed, there were given an alternative date. They were given conditions also that is why you saw they were in pockets, there were not a lot of them because of the COVID-19 regulations and they were told if they were going to Parliament, they were going to go in buses and make sure there were was social distance, and there was social distance,” Katongo said.
Asked if the youths who protested in the bush were given an alternative date, Katongo said they did not follow the law to the latter from the onset.
“The Public Order Act demands that when we say ‘no, you appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs’, how many have appealed? If you are not happy with the outcome from his ministry, you can go to the High Court? It is because you don’t want to follow the law to the latter? You want to do what you want. We will not allow that as Zambia Police Service so don’t compare instances you don’t understand well. Had we told the youths that we just want a few of you, would they have accepted? So that is how it is,” she responded.
Meanwhile, when asked if there was enough manpower to handle next year’s general election, Katongo said manpower would not be enough but that the service would still manage.
“Manpower will never be enough. We have handled elections even before with the manpower we have and we thank the government because they are intending to have some officers recruited in the policing. But even then, we will not say that those numbers will be enough to police elections but with the same human resources that we have we are going to manage the elections the same way we have been managing in the past,” said Katongo.