POLICE spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo says criminal minded people often take advantage of illegal gatherings to advance their criminal agendas which may lead to loss of life and they do so with the intention of “pushing the agenda of discrediting” government institutions for political mileage.

And Katongo has warned the general public against commenting on matters which they do not understand, saying they might end up sympathizing with perpetrators of heinous crimes.

Meanwhile, Katongo says as the 2021 elections approach, police will not tolerate any political party propagating lawlessness and any schemes which have the potential to create anarchy in the country.

In a statement, Monday, Katongo said the the deaths of Nsama Nsama Chipyoka and Joseph Kaunda could have been avoided if the UPND supporters had heeded to the advice of Police Inspector General Kakoma Kaganja and Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo not to go ahead and illegally assemble under the pretext of showing solidarity to UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

“As Zambia Police, we wish to thank families of Mr. Nsama Nsama Chipyoka of National Prosecutions Authority and Joseph Kaunda for allowing their relatives to be buried peacefully without any disturbance. It is in this same vein that we are thanking members of the public for their peaceful conduct during both funeral processions. During the illegal public disturbance that happened on 23rd December, 2020, Police impounded three buses which were used to ferry cadres to Police Service Headquarters under the guise of giving solidarity to the opposition UPND leader who was summoned by the Police. More than 32 bus loads of cadres were spotted on that day and as police we have instituted investigations with the view of impounding all the buses that could have been involved in ferrying cadres,” Katongo said.

“As Zambia Police, we regret the loss of two lives which was as a result of the public disturbance which could have been avoided had the leaders of the Political party taken heed of the advice earlier given by relevant authorities. Prior to the illegal public activity, the Inspector General of Police had advised political cadres to stay away from the planned illegal public activity. The Minister of Home Affairs also emphasised the need for cadres to stay away but the UPND leadership in their statement dared the police and went ahead to mobilize people to be part of the illegal public procession which saw cadres turning up in huge numbers.”

Katongo said the police would not fold its hands and watch lawlessness thrive in the country by allowing people to illegally assemble without notifying the police.

“It should be understood that the Public Order Act regulates assemblies, public meetings and processions in this country and section 5 (4) demands that persons intending to assemble or convene a public meeting, procession or demonstration should give police notice of their intention to do so. This provision does not exempt those that want to give solidarity by gathering in a public place.It is therefore imperative that all those wishing to conduct a public activity do so within the confines of the law so as to avoid public disorder or being in confrontation with Law Enforcement officers. The Zambia Police, being an institution charged with the responsibility of ensuring that public order and peace prevails at all times and that all law abiding citizens are protected from law breakers, shall not fold hands and watch lawlessness thrive,” Katongo said.

“Being an institution charged with the security of the nation, we are privileged to have privileged information which members of the public may not have and we do understand that it is during public disturbances such as illegal public gatherings that criminal minded people who could also be part of those assembled, would want to advance their criminal activities which may in the end lead to loss of life. The motive of such criminal minded people is to have the blame shifted on government institutions with a view of pushing the agenda of discrediting such institutions for political mileage.”

And Katongo warned the general public against commenting on matters which they did not understand, saying they might end up sympathizing with the perpetrators of heinous crimes.

“As the country prepares to go to a general election next year, we wish to state our position clearly as Zambia Police that we shall never tolerate any scheme by any political party which has potential to cause anarchy in the country. Any lawless shall be met with the proportionate force because Zambia is bigger than any individual. We further urge members of the public to restrain themselves from commenting on issues that they may not fully understand because they may end up sympathizing with perpetrators of heinous crimes. Some criminal activities are beyond what meets the eye.As Zambia Police, our resolve is to protect the people of Zambia from any form of criminality and we shall do just that in fulfilling our Constitutional mandate,” said Katongo.