HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has regretted the loss of two unarmed civilians in Tuesday’s fatal shooting but says now is not the time for the “blame game”.

And Kampyongo has announced that President Edgar Lungu has pardoned 130 ordinary inmates.

When asked if Tuesday’s gruesome incident, which extinguished the lives of State prosecutor Nsama Nsama and UPND sympathiser Joseph Kaunda was targeted at UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, Kampyongo insisted that no one was being targeted but added that his Ministry had worked to procure equipment for the purpose of maintaining law and order to protect lives.

“I know that where there is a loss of life, there is so much speculation and people’s emotions are high, understandably, and people are bound to say all sorts of things. Our role, as a Ministry responsible for maintaining law and order, is to protect every citizen and every life matters to us. And that is the reason why you have seen us put efforts together with His Excellency, the President. We have undertaken programmes, projects, procurement of equipment for the purpose of maintaining law and order and protecting people’s lives and no one would want to target anyone in terms of insinuations that are being made. So, consider those as insinuations. The Public Order Act, which the police implement when dealing with processions, is basically there to make sure that we live in harmony despite the divergent views,” Kampyongo replied during a press briefing in Chinsali District, Thursday.

“For now, it is important that we allow competent authorities to investigate these matters and get at the bottom of it. It is not time for blame games! We have work to do. And certainly those who want to thrive… because I don’t see any reasonable human being thriving and making capital out of occurrences that have culminated in loss of lives. No one’s life is worth being lost in any circumstances that can be avoided. We don’t want other events of a similar nature, which may culminate in the loss of other lives. For now, we will encourage the investigating wings that will be charged with investigating this matter and expedite the process and make sure that we quickly share with the nation the correct versions of what transpired. People have been making all sorts of narratives, but that should not sway the investigating wings and focus on the work and do the right things.”

He said President Lungu was doing everything to ensure that no more blood would be shed going forward.

“I would like to seize this opportunity to make a few remarks on the event of yesterday (Tuesday). Indeed, a regrettable event. I would like to start by conveying sincere condolences to the families of Mr Nsama, who was a prosecutor at the National Prosecution Authority and conveying our condolences to the Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda) and the Director of Public Prosecution for this loss. You may wish to know that Mr Nsama was trained as a police officer under the Zambia Police Service. He was a committed public servant and he moved to NPA when prosecutions were moved from the Zambia Police Service. So, his loss is disheartening and we can only sympathise with his family, who could have loved to be with him during this period. I equally want to offer my condolences to the other citizen, who equally lost a life yesterday. I would like to echo the comments of the Inspector General of Police (Kakoma Kanganja) to ensure that investigations in those regrettable events are instituted,” he said.

“I am going back to Lusaka and I will engage the Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders so that the investigations are inclusive and we ensure that other stakeholders that we have worked with during times like this, the Human Rights Commission, are not left on board to ensure that we get to the bottom of what happened yesterday (Tuesday). It is important for our people to remain calm and to ensure that the law enforcement agencies do their work. And that we, as a people, get to continue embracing peace. We shall not allow enemies of peace to emerge victorious out of this situation. On behalf of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia, we are going to ensure that everything is done to maintain peace and that no more blood is shed as we go forward.”

And when told that some members of the public were accusing him and Kanganja of being behind the shooting of two citizens, Kampyongo said the accusations were unfortunate.

“For accusations against us, well, they are very unfortunate. I am an elected member of parliament. I should have been here with my people as I always do every year during this period, but I have had to cut short this tour of duty in order to go back and ensure that we deal with the situation appropriately. But I must also appeal to people that want to take advantage of this situation to want to escalate the situation by inciting people to refrain from those activities because peace is good for all of us. Violence has never been good for anyone. Not even those that want to think out of violence they can win sympathy, they can win capital; no one will benefit from violent activities. My plea to the people and those who are reasonable leaders is to ensure that we prevail over our people and make sure that the competent authorities are given a chance to deal with this situation,” he replied.

Meanwhile, Kampyongo said the pardoning of 130 ordinary inmates would greatly help to decongest the already-congested facilities and also increase social distancing among inmates.

“His Excellency, Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has exercised his Prerogative of Mercy on 130 ordinary inmates. Among the pardoned, 17 are female while 113 are males. The number may look to be small, but the nation may wish to know that during the year 2020 alone, a cumulative 4,329 inmates were pardoned by His Excellency, the President in exercising the Prerogative of Mercy pursuant to 97 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia. The breakdown of inmates is as follows: 3,223 inmates were released to commemorate Africa Freedom Day, which fell on 25th May, 2020. 966 inmates were released to commemorate 56th Independence Anniversary, which fell on the 24th of October, 2020, and 130 I am announcing today (Thursday) have been pardoned to commemorate Christmas Day,” said Kampyongo.

“The action by the Republican President in accordance with Article 91, which provides for Presidential Pardon and substitution of severe punishments imposed on convicted persons. The pardoning of 130 ordinary inmates will greatly help to decongest the already congested facilities and also increase the social distancing among inmates. No COVID-19 case has been recorded in our correctional centres throughout the country. This has been a result of measures that the hardworking patriotic government through the Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) has put in place aimed at preventing the spread of the virus to our correctional centres. I further wish to commend the ZCS command for this achievement. As a government, we will continue supporting the Service to ensure that the measures put in place are observed and sustained.”