POLICE spokesperson Esther Katongo has stressed that police cannot fail to pick up UPND president Hakainde Hichilema if he refuses to comply with a summons, but that the opposition leader has not been summoned yet.

In an interview, Katongo expressed disappointment that Hichilema had continued to portray a wrong image to the public that he would not be going to the police station when he actually had not yet been summoned.

She was reacting to Hichilema’s refusal to respond to Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja’s call-out that was supposedly delivered at the UPND secretariat last Friday.

“Maybe we need to give an explanation. What happens is that when you are summoned and you don’t avail yourself to the police, the duty of the police is to follow and pick you up. In the case of HH, I think he even knows himself to say that he has not been summoned that is why he is saying, ‘I will not go, I have been summoned, I will not go.’ If us, as police, we mean business, we mean business. Whether a person is a political leader or whatever status, that person is and as long as that person has got no immunity, our job is to follow that person and pick that person to come and answer to charges, there is no one who is above the law,” Katongo said.

“So, for people to show a picture that they are not coming to police, then we can leave them just like that, that is a non-starter. The way we are supposed to conduct our job, we have to follow you where you are and arrest you and take you to the police, but the issue of writing a callout is just a way of respecting you that you avail yourself than us coming to pick you up, so that everyone sees you that someone has been picked. It is a way of showing respect to people, but in the case of HH, I think we put it clear in our statement that he has not been summoned. So, for me to say that he has been summoned and ‘I will not go there’, it is a wrong perception to what is happening on the ground because he has not been summoned that is why he is even talking like that; he knows that we are not going to follow him because he hasn’t been summoned.”

Katongo added that Hichilema might still be summoned as investigations in the matter continued.

“As we will be going ahead, as we will continue with investigations, if there will be any need of him being summoned, he will be summoned. As the officers are conducting investigations…because what they are doing now is getting statements and continuing with investigations. So, even these cadres who are saying, ‘you can’t get this one,’ that can never happen, they are just talking from the blues. What we are saying, he hasn’t been summoned yet,” she said.

And Katongo explained that a police summon does not mean a person is under arrest.

“The other thing, which people should understand is that, when a person is summoned, it is not automatically an arrest. Police officers may want to get information from that person. Now, what we have in Zambia, whenever you summon someone…We summoned (MMD president) Nevers Mumba just recently, people were saying iye wayenda ku mu manga (they are going to arrest him), it is not like that. At times you would want to get information from that person not until we reach an action point where we act that, now, we are charging you, that is when people can say someone has been arrested. But summoning you, that, ‘come to the police’ does not mean that you have been arrested, no! We have not summoned him, but that does not mean that we cannot summon him, we can summon him at any time when we feel like there is something that we want from him,” explained Katongo.

“So, even if someone has followers, we cannot be deterred by any follower to say that, ‘we are not going to summon that person,’ no! There is nothing like that in the law. Our laws are very clear: no one is above the law. For those who are daring that, ‘when they summon, we are going to do this…’ Let them do that and we will be there. People shouldn’t cry to say, ‘police are using police brutality, we are going to do this and that.’ Let them do that and we will be there. You have seen the way they are daring police? So, we cannot stop picking someone just because some followers are daring someone that is the point I want people to get.”

On Monday, during his address to students from the University of Zambia National Institute of Public Administration, Evelyn Hone College and Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM), Hichilema said he would not bother responding to Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja’s “stupid” call.