More cases of sporadic riots, panic and mob justice are occurring around some parts of the country due to the allegations of gassing. Yesterday there were riots in Chongwe, Mumba and this morning Serenje. In Chongwe, Police received a report of riotous behavior which was sparked after word went round that police had detained some suspects behind chemical spraying in the area.
They then went to the police station in the area demanding the release of the said suspects with a view of killing them. The mob later went to the streets where they staged riots.
Mumbwa Town Council Chairman Gracious Hamatala issued the following statement following riots in Mumbwa.
Good evening comrades. Most of you have by now heard that Mumbwa Central business District experienced running battles with the Police this afternoon.
This unfortunate situation was caused by one man who cracked a silly joke with a client who entered the shop to buy fish.
The Shop Keeper who about to knock off closed the doors while in the process asking the client if she’s been gassed before.
The client panicked and called for help while struggling to leave the shop and people came to her rescue. As it where, when the Police picked up the Shop Keeper, word then went round that Police where hiding a gasser/ritual killer when the guy had just been picked for interrogations.
People then mobilised and rushed to the Police with a demand to mate out instant justice hence the ensuing running battles.
I would like to appeal to the residents of Mumbwa to calm down because today incidence left a lot of property damaged on an account that should not led to such.
Secondly, please exercise patience and seek to confirm information before spreading it out to avoid loss of life on unfounded updates/rumours.
Do not take the law in your hands because this may cause loss of life of a completely innocent person as the case has happened in other parts of the Country.
Do not make any silly jokes about gassing as this may not only lead to a situation like that of this afternoon but on a serious note could lead to your demise.
Do not carry any suspicious containers or substances which may make you look suspicious as almost everyone is now considered as a potential culprit/gasser.
Those in town, avoid carrying sprayers or application of insecticides in the vicinity of residential places.
Report an suspicious person or objects to the Police or community/civic leaders.
Avoid running Political comments of accusing each other as parties but let residents exercise critical thinking on how we can bring this scourge to an end. Our Children are traumatized and our already strained economy is being hurt the more.
Meanwhile Zambia Police public relations officer Esther Katongo said there is an emerging tendency where members of the public are blocking public roads and searching motor vehicles on suspicion that they are carrying chemical substances being used in suspected chemical spraying cases currently being experienced in some parts of the country.
Ms Katongo said this is a pure act of criminality where some criminals would want to take advantage of the prevailing situation to attack unsuspecting members of the public and steal from them.
Between Manyinga and Mufumbwe of North Western Province, a mob blocked the road using logs and stones and stopped motor vehicles among them, a Power Tools Bus and demanded that they conduct a search on the bus. Upon searching the bus they found a first aid kit which contained pain killers, bandages, methylated spirit, gloves and a small axe as per road traffic regulations but the mob became suspicious after seeing an axe.
A similar situation was experienced in Kafue yesterday between 18 00 hours and 20 00 hours and also around 06 00 hours where a mob blocked the road between Kafue Gorge turn off and Shamikobo area, stopping and searching motor vehicles and caused damage to five (05) motor vehicles. Police have arrested eight people for riotous behaviour who are currently detained in police custody.
Zambia Police are therefore warning all those who have adopted this tendency or those contemplating the same that as police we will not take this criminality lightly. We urge members of the public to desist from this criminal act and avoid involving themselves in duties which are not within their mandate.
In Northern Province in Nseluka area, there was a report of mob justice in which members of the public have killed an unidentified male person who they later dressed in a combat police uniform which was found in the victim’s motor vehicle. This was after members of the public suspected the deceased who was in the area in the company of his colleague to be behind chemical spraying in the area. Upon interrogations, the friend to the victim ran away. The mob searched the victim’s motor vehicle and found a pair of police combat uniform which they dressed him after killing him and later set the victim’s motor vehicle on fire.
Investigations have been instituted to establish the source of the police combat uniform.
In another development, 27 people were arrested yesterday by a joint operation team in Mtendere Compound for conduct likely to cause the breach of peace. 22 various offensive weapons were recovered from them. After screening, those linked to the offensive weapons are likely to be charged with possession of offensive weapons. All those who would want to conduct patrols in their communities should do so in liaison with police in their respective areas. All those that will be found moving round communities on pretext of conducting patrols without police blessings will be dealt with accordingly.