Police say it is a blue lie that Post editor Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta Mazoka and deputy managing editor Joseph Mwenda were roughed up by the police on Monday night.
As new evidence of The Post newspaper’s financial misdemeanors emerged, an eye-witnesss has challenged Mr M’membe to state categorically if the police or anybody else beat them up on the night the trio defied police orders not to enter The Post premises on Bwinjimfumu road which had been sealed by security personnel.
A police source at the scene described as a ‘‘complete lie’’ allegations that the three were harassed, saying that they voluntarily came forward to be arrested.
“I was at the scene all the time and at no time did the police respond to the verbal insults and provocation by Mr M’membe. The officers behaved professionally and all the allegations of harassment and brutality were a lie,” the witness said.
The Post newspaper reported yesterday that Mr M’membe, Mutinta and Mr Mwenda were roughed up and beaten by law enforcement officers when the trio tried to enforce a document purported to originate from the Revenue Appeals Tribunal for the police to vacate the premises and allow Mr M’membe to operate.
The eye-witness explained that neither M’membe, his wife Mutinta nor Mr Mwenda were beaten as they voluntarily surrendered themselves to be arrested.
The witness said in fact Mr M’membe and his wife ‘‘joined in the arrest’’ after Mr Mwenda was apprehended following his unlawful entry into the building where he was seen switching on a computer at a desk he was sitting before police switched off power supply to the building.
The witness said Mr Mwenda had secretly entered the premises and locked himself in the offices where he was seen switching on computers which forced officers to respond by cutting power to the building. Mr Mwenda’s move was seen by the police to be an attempt to utter electronic information, against a warrant of distress issued to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) for the recovery of unpaid taxes by the newspaper company.
Earlier, Mr M’membe tried to force a ZRA official to sign a forged document purported to have been issued by the Revenue Appeals Tribunal to restrain ZRA from continued occupation and locking up of the Post newspaper premises in an effort to recover their money.
This was almost one week after ZRA effected a Supreme Court judgment to enforce a warrant of distress against the newspaper in an attempt to recover over K53 million owed to the institution.
“They (the trio) roughed up the (ZRA) director at his home, trying to have him sign the order; and this startled the director who later informed his friends about the impromptu visit at his residence by Mr M’membe, and he was a little taken aback over his safety and security.
“He felt that there was a risk on his life and he made a few phone calls to his friends over his security that M’membe and Mr Nchima had actually gone to his private residence, over the ZRA action,” he said.