POLICE Spokesperson Rae Hamoonga says the use of live ammunition by police officers is not meant to endanger citizens’ lives but to protect them from criminals.

Recently, Lusaka Pharmacist Victor Chirwa who was shot by C5 police officers in November last year on suspicion that his vehicle was used in aggravated robbery died.

And when asked why police officers could not carry rubber bullets when policing in an interview, Hamoonga said officers could not protect the citizenry with rubber bullets when criminals were using live ammunition.

He added that rubber bullets were used at appropriate functions.

“But how can you honestly go with rubber bullets in the public, to defend the public when you have criminals that are firing at us with live bullets? Then it will defeat the whole purpose. Of course, that is not to say officers can use these live bullets indiscriminately no. These bullets or live ammunition are meant to protect the citizenry from these aggressors who are the criminals. Where an officer uses a firearm inappropriately, he will be charged accordingly just like we would charge a criminal. So, these live bullets are not there to endanger the lives of the citizens, no, they are there to protect the lives of the citizenry,” Hamoonga said.

“In fact, if I can go further, you should remember that these ammunitions are purchased by you the Zambian people and through the Zambian police to use for the protection of your lives. Yes, we have rubber bullets but they are used at appropriate functions. But we are not going to go in public to protect the citizenry with rubber bullets when criminals are using live ammunition,” Hamoonga said.

Meanwhile, commenting on an incident where a police officer shot his colleague in the ear in unexplained circumstances, Hamoonga said there were legal consequences for officers’ failure to use a firearm appropriately.

“That is what I am saying, where an officer uses a firearm inappropriately, the legal consequences will follow that officer. But for now, that matter is under investigation, when we are done with investigations, then we will be able to give you the status quo. Officers undergo training and they know when to use a firearm. That is what I was saying that when an officer is investigated and found wanting, then the law takes its course. For us as police officers, we are trained how to use a firearm and we know when to use a firearm. And not even this incidence, even various incidences where an officer uses a firearm inappropriately, he is taken to task and made to explain or account for his actions. Where he is found wanting, the law takes its course,” said Hamoonga.