UPND parliamentary candidate for Bwacha constituency Percy Chato has gone into hiding after being attacked by suspected PF cadres and later having his house surrounded by police, defence forces and prison officers.
In an interview, Chato, who is a former correctional services commissioner general, narrated that after receiving reports that his polling agent was being harassed by suspected PF cadres at Mtshede Primary School, he went there and picked up his agent.
He said after picking the agent, they parked at Mukobeko market to get some drinks but that a white Land Cruiser registration number BAT 2386, being driven by the said cadres, followed them and demanded that the agent be handed over to them.
“I said no, you cannot get hold of my cadre and the characters became violent. So I instructed our driver to leave the place. Actually we left the place at high speed; they gave chase with the white land cruiser all the way from Mukobeko Township up to my home. They parked near Sydney Mushanga’s place and got out of the vehicle. When they got off the vehicle, our security team said it wasn’t okay for me to be at home and they advised me to leave immediately. When we left in a convoy of three vehicles, one of our vehicles, a canter remained slightly behind then the military came in,” he said.
Chato added that before he left the house, military officers went to his house in a land cruiser but just combed the area and left.
“Initially when I was at home, the military came in with a land cruiser, they just combed the area and left. So that’s when my officers advised me to take leave. So when I left, we received a report that a convoy of three vehicles came to my place, surrounded it and it was composed of the police, the military and some prison officers. They gave chase to everyone who was at home. One of my garden boys is not accounted for, the driver of the canter and another individual who was around, the rest managed to run away. So currently I am not at home and I am at a safe place,” he narrated.
He, however, said one of his garden boys was unaccounted for.
“The only damage we are told is with the canter which was parked in the yard but I have advised my people to go and make a serious assessment of what has been damaged. But what is disheartening is how the military can just storm at a private property because we are not violent in the first place. PF cadres were threatening the lives of my polling agent who was monitoring the situation at Mtshede primary school where it was reported that the PF were giving money to would-be voters to entice them to vote for the PF,” said Chato.
He described the attack as a threat to democracy and to free and fair elections.
Efforts to get a comment from the Central Province police commissioner proved futile as his phone went unanswered by press time.