UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka says he cannot stop laughing at the aggregated robbery charge that was slapped on him by the State a month ago as it implied that those responsible for his arrest did not know what they were doing.
Narrating his ordeal to News Diggers! in an interview, Mucheleka said he could not understand why the PF government wanted him dead for simply exercising his rights and enjoying his liberties.
Mucheleka recalled the ordeal that led to his arrest and detention.
“I was arrested around 02:30, that’s precisely the time that police officers came to my house and ransacked it. It wasn’t like I was summoned to appear before then or anything, no. They just came and ransacked the entire house with heavy artillery! When they came, I looked at the time and it was 02:30. From that time until about an hour later, we were being interrogated when we were to answer questions that we had no idea what those had to do with us. We couldn’t understand any questions. And there were over 20 vans with armed police officers to come and arrest a single person. And they threw us in police cells where we were seriously mistreated by the officer in charge at Kasama Police station. I say mistreated because we were denied basic amenities whilst in those cells for three days,” Mucheleka narrated.
“We were in a cell that was full of human excretion, we could barely breathe! And when we asked for basic things such as blankets, they couldn’t give us. And so we spent those three nights freezing in the cold and we couldn’t even answer the call of nature. The only time we did that is when we were taken for interrogation and we had to beg. We did make a request to the officer-in-charge to let our family and friends bring us at least a mattress and blankets and that request was simply denied. The toilet in there was not functional, neither was it cleaned. When our friend brought water bottles, we used those as means to answer the call of nature. And so after three days, on a Wednesday, we were taken to court after which we were taken to a Correctional Facility. I have to say that when they slapped us with the charges, I couldn’t help, but laugh! Up until now, I’m laughing at the charges.”
He insisted that the charges slapped on him were designed to eliminate him.
“And you know, when they took me to those cells, I thought that they wanted to break me, but after the charges came, I realised that these guys wanted to kill me! And I just couldn’t comprehend that they wanted me dead for exercising my rights as enshrined in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. I would love to know, do people understand what aggravated robbery is? I will talk about aggravated robbery and not malicious damage because that is a matter that is still in court. My conscience has always been at peace and even when I didn’t understand what was going on, I was at peace. I knew this was about politics, but I didn’t know that that was the level at which we would degenerate where you wake up and look at political opponents and because you think you control the instruments of power, you abuse them. But even as you abuse, you need to have a limitation, unfortunately, this one, today, has no limitations on his abuse of the instruments of power. You know, you cannot wake up and slap your political opponents with the charge of aggravated robbery. Do people know what aggravated robbery is? It carries a maximum sentence of death by hanging! So, they wanted my head on the chopping board. What they were saying is that, ‘we were to be killed, physically killed.’ It was to have me killed, to have Elias Mubanga killed, to have Samuel Ngwira killed, it’s to have Edward Chilemba killed. These are the four people I was charged with all for merely expressing opinions, different from theirs, and for enjoying civil liberties as enshrined in the Constitution under Part three, the Bill of Rights. And their main mission is to scare people away, but scared of what?” he wondered.
“This is our country and we must enjoy our freedoms. Even when they took me there, they thought that they were doing something to break me, but you cannot break me there. I cannot be scared of a person who is in power today and tomorrow is out, it’s not possible.”
Mucheleka revealed that the police officers told him that they were being abused by their superiors and pleaded with the UPND to help improve their conditions of service once elected into office.
“…And by the way, the same police officers who were sent to persecute me were begging me and the UPND to deliver them. They were pointing guns at me, but they were telling me, ‘please don’t put us in trouble when you are voted into power because we are just being abused.’ At one point, I was very upset with one of them because he kept whispering to me telling me to be strong, but his gun kept pushing me. This got me upset. But he whispered to me in a begging way that I shouldn’t be upset, he needed people to think that he was working. They said, in fact, ‘deliver us from this system, please! We don’t want to be abused anymore.’ Meanwhile, they were pointing guns, ma AK47 at me! And I asked them, ‘so if they had instructed you to kill me, you would have killed me?’ And they couldn’t answer. But the message was clear, they told us we have really suffered at the hands of these (PF) people, that they could hardly do the right thing. So, they didn’t lay a finger on me because they knew it was unnecessary,” narrated Mucheleka.
“And we were thrown into the Minima Correctional Facility shortly after we were taken to court. And you know, in prison, we were received to a thunderous welcome! You know, you would think that those people in prison are not informed with regards to the current affairs of the country. Don’t be deceived, they are well informed and they knew that we were coming. They knew the day and the hour. When we arrived, they were simply cheering! And I want to thank the correctional officers at that facility that they received us well and they treated us with respect and dignity. And you know, when you spend 30 days in a facility like that, you interact with a lot of officers. To our surprise, the message was the same like the one we got from the police officers, it was: ‘we are with you and help us liberate this country again because it’s in bondage right now’.”