KBN TV chief executive officer Kennedy Mambwe has described theft of the television station’s equipment as an assault on press freedom.

Meanwhile, police say they are holding a security guard in connection to the theft of KBN equipment worth K260,000.

Unknown people stormed KBN TV and stole studio equipment, laptops among other items in the early hours of yesterday.

In an interview, Wednesday, Mambwe said the station was yet to quantify how much was lost in stolen properties.

“This is a very sad day for us at KBN TV but also a very sad day for the media in Zambia. It is quite unprecedented that armed robbers could break into a TV station in the dead of the night and take sensitive electronic equipment that we use for live transmission. So we have pretty much lost everything. Five cameras, all the studio control room equipment. The only thing that they didn’t steal was the server. If you notice, we have restored feed on DSTV only because the DSTV server was not stolen but all the other gadgets, including cutting fibre that pushes feed to Topstar,” he said.

“They forced their way even into my office, took away my personal laptop, my tablet, the laptops that the news guys use. A number of other things we are yet to discover because even the storeroom where we keep spare parts, back up equipment, they forced their entry there and left a trail of destruction, things thrown about on the floor. We are yet to quantify how much we have lost but pretty much we have lost but it is pretty much the nerve system of a station. It is a drawback to a young station such as ourselves but we also think it is an assault on freedom of the press.”

He wondered why people would target to steal electronic gadgets from a media house when they could easily steal from stores.

“It’s hard to say, of course there is some history the station has. But look, we are only a station, we are not law enforcement agencies, we are not investigators. All we have done is to take the right step to report to the relevant authorities and we will leave that into the hands of the police. But yes, we do have history. This is coming on the heels of world press freedom day where we asserted our commitments to be an active player in promoting press freedom in Zambia and to be singled out in this kind of attack, how come not any other station has been attacked?” he asked.

“So it is difficult to say what this is all about. Media should not be targeted. Please go and steal from stores if it’s gadgets you want, don’t come to steal from us unless you have another motive. But you can steal TV sets and electronic gadgets elsewhere but to target a TV station, you perhaps must have a motive. Why you are targeting a TV station and not any other TV station but a TV station that has got some history in the recent past? We have had instances of a fire break out previously. Fire looks a little bit normal but when you can see this is a clear targeted execution of selective electronic gadgets being picked and ransacked from an office like this, it leaves one to wonder what might be going on.”

Mambwe said the matter had been reported to relevant authorities.

“However, the case now is in the hands of the police. The guard on duty is giving a statement to the police. At the moment as a station, there is very little we can say except to indicate the extent to which this has crippled our operations. We are off on Topstar right now countrywide because of the same theft. We can’t go live anymore at the moment, we can only play pre-recorded programmes on DSTV. Thankfully, our technical team has managed to restore the feed on DSTV,” he said.

And KBN station manager Petty Chanda said the attack was a well organised crime by people who knew exactly what they wanted.

“They have stolen about four cameras and they also got into the storeroom where we keep our stuff. They went away with two other cameras and some other cables. Some, we are yet to discover what has been stolen because it is a lot of small equipment that are missing. This kind of attack from our view is something that is prearranged, well organised, because if somebody wants to steal, they would have even stolen the DSTV but it’s still there. So they only cut what is supposed to transmit to Topstar, meaning they wanted to cripple the station. When you come to this studio, they have taken studio cameras, monitors and everything. We suspect it’s a person who knows their job very well,” said Chanda.

Meanwhile, police deputy public relations officer Danny Mwale said police were holding the security guard in connection to the theft.

“Police in Lusaka are holding a Security Guard in connection with the theft incident which occurred in Northmead area where unknown criminals broke into KBN Television studio premises and stole assorted studio equipment. The incident occurred on May 11, 2022 between 02:00 hours and 04:00 hours at plot number 1731, Mwembeshi road in Northmead area. Initial investigations revealed that suspects forced the doors of the building using unknown sharp instruments and stole Two Sony Zao Cameras with batteries, Mark 11 Camera with batteries, Nikon Camera, Three Hisense Television sets, HP monitor and a Lenovo laptop,” stated Mwale.

“Other items stolen include, a canon 600 D, a digital mixer Ediral 16 channels and HD black magic converter. The total value of stolen property is K260,000. The studio premises is protected by security guards from a named security firm. Investigations are ongoing.”