HOME Affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo says the police reserve who shot dead a 17-year-old Kamanga resident has been arrested and charged with murder.

And Kampyongo says six rioters who ran amok in Kamanga compound have been arrested and will soon appear in court.

Delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament on the shooting incidents in Kamanga and Mwinilunga, Wednesday, Kampyongo said the police reserve’s action was unprofessional as he acted with negligence.

Two weeks ago, a police reserve shot a 17-year-old boy in Kamanga compound as officers tried to close down a bar which was operating beyond the stipulated hours, causing a spate of riots in the area.

A similar incident happened in Mwinilunga on September 26 where protestors attacked police officers while they were trying to restore law and order, leading to the shooting of one protestor.

“Investigations were immediately instituted in the matter and the police reserve officer involved in the shooting of a juvenile has since been arrested and charged with murder. Six rioters have also been arrested and they will also appear before the courts of law. Investigations in this matter are ongoing. One officer who had been assigned to pick up the body of the deceased was also injured in the process. Further, the rioters facilitated the escape of 11 suspects, 10 males and one female, who were facing various criminal charges. Out of the 11 escapees, two have since been re-arrested and detained at Chelstone police station,” Kampyongo said.

“Loss of lives is regrettable and it does not please us at all when we see people lose lives. Mr Speaker, I want to bring to your attention that the life we lost in Mwinilunga is a person who was a close relative to the Inspector General of Police and so you can understand how much we are equally concerned. [In Kamanga], the reason why the police reserve was arrested is because the circumstances surrounding that action are bordering on negligence. As you know, Mr Speaker, police reservists are not supposed to use firearms in operations, they are supposed to be in the company of officers that are substantive police officers. So there were some aspects of negligence, this is the reason why that particular individual has been arrested. So the situation could have been dealt with differently if the officers applied themselves professionally as expected of them.”

He added that the procurement of new police equipment would help police officers in handling crowd control.

Kampyongo further explained that the use of firearms varied with the situation that the police officers were faced with.

“Yes, indeed, the officers are trained to use equipment, including firearms, and they are gazetted. There are laws world over on this, legally allowed to use firearms. Why? Because the criminality they deal with varies. There are also criminals who use weapons and therefore, you can’t expect a police officer to go with a short button to deal with a criminal who is using a firearm. But I want to assure you, through you Mr Speaker, that you have seen of late the Minister of Home Affairs procuring modern equipment for the Zambia Police Service. All this is meant to lessen the usage of firearms in dealing with situations. Most of the equipment we have gotten for them is the same equipment that will deal with crowd control and restoration of law and order, so you will see the change. Currently, officers are getting oriented on how to use this equipment effectively. But it is world over, police are gazetted to use firearms,” Kampyongo said.

“Mr Speaker, circumstances vary and that is why we advise people to be civil in dealing with situations…Where officers, according to procedures, are able to disperse the crowd and the crowd abides, normally, we don’t experience casualties. We only experience casualties when the rioters…put the lives of officers at risk. Like the circumstances I gave in Mwinilunga where you have got this mob wielding all sorts of offensive weapons, the officers have the responsibility to defend themselves and defend other members of the public and also property. So where it is determined that officers used wrong judgement and investigations prove so, there are remedial measures that are in place for both victims and those that could have been found wanting. It doesn’t please us to see an officer on duty being arrested on a capital offence like murder. So, it is important that we advise our people to be law abiding citizens. Certainly, where there is a breakdown of order, you can’t avoid collateral damage.”

And the minister said his Ministry was facing a number of challenges in the issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs).

“Government has noted with great concern that some members of parliament and political party agents are not collaborating with district administration offices and thereby making the work of my officers very difficult. The challenges being faced by my officers include ferrying of applicants. Applicants are being ferried from areas yet to be visited by the mobile teams to the current centers. This situation inconveniences the public and the officers because instead of waiting in their local areas, the people are made to camp at issuance centers. Some people are literally sleeping at issuance centers in most districts instead of waiting for officers to visit their areas. The officers cannot even sleep at night as queues form as early as 02:00 hours,” Kampyongo said.

“Intimidation of officers: there has been heightened intimidation and harassment of officers by some MPs, councillors and party agents. For example, in Kanyama constituency of Lusaka Province, the registration process was disrupted and officers attacked by suspected cadres. This is counter-productive and not necessary as information, enquiries or concerns pertaining to the exercise should be made to the district commissioners at district levels, or permanent secretaries at provincial level or indeed my office; and law enforcement officers will be on hand to deal with perpetrators.”

He added that the spreading of falsehoods on the exercise was another challenge.

“Some unscrupulous people are charging for affidavit forms and filling them in advance, particularly in Lusaka district. This is not only unacceptable but illegal. I have instructed officers not to accept already completed forms and I want to warn would be offenders that they will be brought to book,” said Kampyongo.

“Some suspected political agents have been flooding communities, spreading falsehoods about the exercise. They are telling people that the exercise will not be extended to all areas and that it will end before the expiry of the prescribed 40 days. This has caused panic in the public and has made people to be suspicious of officers. Further, the same people are going round communities with loud speakers announcing national registration card messages when they are not government officials authorizsd to do so. Let me warn those spreading falsehoods that the law will take its course.”