HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says it is premature to state why police raided a village in Shibuyunji District.
And Kampyongo has warned politicians trying to politicise the raid that they risk implicating themselves in a crime.
Meanwhile, Kampyongo says it is wrong to insinuate that he is politically targeting someone who is likely to “lose elections six times.”
On Monday, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema told the PF government to leave his family members and face him in the upcoming August 12 election following the police’s unprovoked raid at his in-law’s residence in Shibuyunji.
Hichilema had accused the police of trying to plant weapons on his farms.
Responding to a question posed by Mwembeshi Independent member of parliament Machila Jamba who asked why the police raided and searched village headman Polobe in Shibuyunji District last Friday; whether the police found what they were looking for; whether government was aware that the search had traumatised the residents; and if so, what immediate measures government was taking to calm the situation in the area, Kampyongo justified the raid, saying similar searches were simultaneously conducted in Chisamba and Chibombo districts.
“The Zambia Police was within the law when they conducted the search at village headman Polobe in Shibuyunji District on Friday 19th February, 2021. There was reasonable ground for suspecting an offence was to be committed. The House may wish to know that at the time the inspection was being conducted at village headman Polobe in Shibuyunji District, similar searches were conducted in Chisamba and Chibombo districts. The matter is still under active investigations and, therefore, it would be premature to state whether anything was found or not. It should be noted that prior to the search, the concerned residents were made aware of what was to be undertaken. Consequently, after the search, the residents were debriefed and they willingly signed the exit papers for the search warrant without indicating any complaints,” Kampyongo said.
“It is, however, interesting to note that despite the searches having been conducted in three districts, the search at village headman Polobe in Shibuyunji District has attracted public interest. So, to enhance law and order in the country, it is important as a nation to let the Zambia Police Service work professionally without interference. The searches were normal police operations and were peaceful. However, due to public interest at village headman at Polobe in Shibuyunji District, the Zambia Police Service has intensified patrols and intelligence gatherings to ensure that no one takes advantage of the situation. It is premature at this juncture for me to go in details of what the police were searching for and what they discovered because the investigations are still active. Until the investigations are conclusive, the members of the public will be informed.”
And Kamypongo warned against politicising the raid.
“My warning and caution to those that would want to politicise this matter is that you can either willingly implicate yourself or unknowingly get yourself implicated. That is why I am pleading that let the police do their professional work because they know what they are working on. We must try by all means to depoliticise their operations. Police do not target individuals or neither do they target their relatives because of their status in society. No one is above the law, whether those persons are related to an individual; it is neither here nor there for the Zambian Police Service. So, for them, they were not looking at the relatives of anybody and that is why I was cautioning that please, let’s be careful on things that we jump into. Because if I am here in Lusaka and I don’t know what my relative is doing in Shiwang’andu (constituency), and I want to run there and jump into issues I don’t know, I may just end up implicating myself,” Kampyongo warned.
“Many at times that we have had clients whose parents have come crying, ‘my child is innocent,’ as things unfold only to come and discover that the person they were saying is innocent, actually, is behind some of these heinous crimes that we have gotten people convicted for! So, let us not claim innocence of people we don’t live with, whether they are relatives or not. That is why I am saying let us depoliticise this matter. If my relatives have been suspected of something, I will be willing, waiting to see what comes out from that investigation than to try to make political capital, it won’t save anyone.”
Meanwhile, Kampyongo insisted that it was wrong to insinuate that he was politically targeting someone who was likely to “lose elections six times.”
“I am Minister of Home Affairs and not ‘Minister of Police’ with more than 13 departments and 19 portfolio functions. I have stated time and again that I do not micro-manage the Zambian Police Service in their operations. For someone to insinuate we have targeted to harass somebody is incorrect. I would advise my dear colleague that we get to engage each other in sincerity. Certainly, to make such allegations is, to say the least, unfair to the people who send us to this August House and disingenuous way of doing our parliamentary work! I have no reason to target anyone, Mr Speaker, no reason at all. We came from opposition ourselves to form government, so I don’t see how I can sit at the Ministry of Home Affairs only thinking of one individual, I have the rest of the country to look after on behalf of the Head of State,” argued Kampyongo.
“That is the work I am given. Transforming institutions, that is the work I am preoccupied with, to try and make positive change on how the police should do their work; correctional services, how do they look after people; immigration, how does it work in the modern era; drug enforcement, how do they get capacitated to do their work. That is the work I am preoccupied with. I have no time to start thinking of one individual who probably could lose elections more than six times! We can compete when it comes to politics; like August (2021) is coming, we are going to compete. So, I have got no time to sit at Home Affairs and only scheme of how to deal with one individual, I have got no time. I don’t even know where these relatives who are in Shibuyunji are.”