Former attorney general Musa Mwenye has weighed in on the killing by police of unarmed civilians Nsama Nsama and Joseph Kaunda saying Zambians made a mistake when they previously kept quiet on police brutality and other related atrocities.
And Mwenye says he will, in collaboration with other members of the legal fraternity, ensure that circumstances surrounding the death of the two innocent civilians are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately delivered.
Speaking on Diamond TV’s Diamond Live Programme, Tuesday, Mwenye said all citizens should speak out against police brutality before impunity grows and becomes difficult to control.
“I think if we must be completely honest, the problem we have in this country is that not only with the police but by political players is that violence is routinely employed as a political strategy for elections. Political players in this country use violence as a strategy and it is becoming systematic and systemic in the police service and we should not condone this because anarchy and impunity does not choose. We have seen people entering police stations attacking the police themselves. I think when we are strict with adherence to rules, strict with the respect of our own dignity as a people, we will sustain the state much better than what is happening now where we have condoned impunity, condoned abuse of human rights and we now create a situation which is akin to anarchy which is a law unto themselves,” he said.
“The police in this country even when they have been high handed historically, even in the one-party state, we didn’t see loss of lives at public gatherings. People being shot in the head, that is against the Zambia police act. It’s heartbreaking to see people dying in that manner, needless to say these people were gathered, they were forced to disperse in a very brutal way and then they were followed through and shot while they were fleeing. What kind of heartlessness is that. Now we have families that are mourning, we have a person who was not even part of that gathering losing his life in such a manner. And perhaps we should speak loud enough. Because when Vespers died, a lot of us didn’t speak loud enough. You don’t allow impunity; it creeps in and it continues to grow until it becomes a big problem. And I think what we did wrong, all of us, myself included, is to keep quiet when these people were killed in the past.”
And Mwenye vowed that in collaboration with other members of the legal fraternity, he would ensure that justice for Nsama and Kaunda was served.
“The Zambia Police act is very clear, there are only three instances where the Zambia police can use live ammunition on people and on gathering and escaping, running away, you don’t use live ammunition, that is clear assassination. It is murder and those who are responsible for the murders now and in the past should be brought to book. We must all raise our voices in defence of the rights of every Zambian in this country. Every Zambia deserves dignity and the protection of the law. And don’t under-estimate the power of our voices. What we say in condemning wrong is not futile. And the politicians need us, they come back to us. I personally saw the bodies of those two gentlemen, Joseph Kaunda and Nsama Nsama. So, I would encourage all of us to condemn this and to call out the wrong doers. We cannot continue to have this kind of impunity and those of us in the legal realm, those of us who have a bit of influence outside will explore avenues to bring back these people to book,” said Mwenye.
“These are people like you and me. So, even when a person is resisting to be arrested or apprehended by word not force, a police officer can’t use it. Even in these instances where a police officer can use a firearm, the law requires that a police officer should fire warning shots first. There is enough authority to say that there is command responsibility. And then the police officers who fired guns cannot claim that they were relying on superior orders. Properly trained police officers are very professional. I must say there is a huge number of police officers who are not happy with the happenings. Time has come when we will start holding these people who are murdering Zambians to account. At the end of the day, if the police officers do not find the people who killed Joseph Kaunda and Nsama Nsama, then we must hold those people to account, the Politicians and those in charge of the police. Those of us in the legal fields are exploring ways to ensure justice prevails whether here or elsewhere.”