24 UPND youths who invaded a mine in Muombe, Chembe district have been charged with criminal trespass, obstructing a road, malicious damage to property and assault.

The youths, who include UPND deputy national youth chairman Stephen Chikota, harassed police officers and sought to gain entry into a mining area alleging that the miner had no documentation to mine sugilite.

In an interview, Luapula Province Commanding officer Sharon Zulu said as long as the youths continued going to private places, they would be arrested.

“On the night of Friday, we apprehended about 24 suspects in connection with the illegality that they were doing at the mine where somebody owns a license, that place is a property of an individual, that person has a license, so nobody is allowed to go there unless if you are the license owner or you are employed there. So the persistence of these criminals going there time and again and, you saw how they behaved towards the police that were guarding those premises. We engaged ourselves to show them the right thing. And on that evening, we apprehended 24. We are charging them with criminal trespass, obstructing the road, assault, malicious damage to property because vehicles were damaged, they stoned them using hammers. And also, one of the private vehicles that the mine was using was damaged,” said Zulu.

“All of them have been arrested today. As long as they continue going to the private place, we will continue arresting them. Those are lawbreakers. We spent most of our time today formally charging and arresting them, thereafter we will give them police bonds. So possibly by the end of the day today, once we are done with arrest, we might give them bonds as long as they bring sureties. Chikota was arrested yesterday because he was wanted by the National Management Committee for whatever reason but we could not release him before we arrested him. So we first arrested him and he will be jointly charged with the rest and appear together in court. We wish we had space under National Prosecution [Authority] to have them appear tomorrow but looking at the number, it is better to release them on bond because these are bondable offences. But if they go back to the site, before the end of the day, you will hear that they are in custody.”