Arrest of fire trucks protestors is politically motivated, insists Amnesty International

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Police attempt to grab placards from Laura Miti and Pilato as they protested at Parliament last year

The trial of six activists – including musician Pilato for taking part in a peaceful protest against exorbitant government spending on fire trucks is politically-motivated and an affront to justice, said Amnesty International, as their hearing resumes in the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court today.

The six were charged with disobeying a lawful order after marching on Parliament on 29 September 2017 against what they said was the corrupt procurement of 42 fire trucks for US$42 million.

The reported cost of the trucks sparked public outcry over alleged misuse of public funds.

“These activists are facing trial simply for demanding transparency and accountability in public spending. They have committed no crime and should never have been charged in the first place,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Police pick up Laura Miti after she took part in a protest at Parliament grounds aganist the purchase of fire trucks last year

“The Zambian authorities must drop these politically motivated charges against them. The authorities should respect, protect and promote the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the country.”

The six, musician Fumba Chama who is known as Pilato, Lewis Mwape, Laura Miti, Sean Enock Tembo, Bornwell Mwewa and Mika Mwambazi have pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them.

If convicted, the human rights defenders and activists, who were beaten by arresting police officers, face up to two years in prison.

 

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Without a doubt. The arrest of these protectors was a result of insecure, dishonest and greedy individual, who hate being held accountable for their actions. How often have we seen PF thugs in party regalia demonstrating violently with pangas against politics opponents? We don’t see them arrested or taken to court do we?
    Let’s be clear ba PF we wo njt forgot this issue. There is no justification for buying a $300,000 at $1 million. No justification at all.

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    • Zambian citizen, I know you are a fairly intelligent person. I encourage you to take time to read the Public order act. It does not say you must get a permit. It says you must notify the police. You see my friend this is your problem. You are determined to defend PF at all costs. Even at the cost of your soul.
      I urge you to look at things objectively, with integrity. Not from a political agenda. These guys did nothing wrong. Even if you accused them of being sponsored by external forces to attack PF, a glance at their bank accounts, cars and houses will prove you wrong. But a look at the bank accounts of some PF ministers(dollar account $6milion, kwacha account K17million for one guy I won’t mention, but it’s there in FIC report), will show who has the interest of Zambia at heart.

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  2. “The six were charged with disobeying a lawful order…” Laura, Pilato and the rest must be special. I remember Savior Chishimba and Chilufya Tayali waiting for their permits and no one bothered them when they protested; Despite Tayali doing it in a bombasa. But Pilato and friends see themselves as special. Breaking laws and pretending to be doing it for the people?? AI must respect the country’s laws first.

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    • @ Zambian Citizen even the POA says notify the police not ask for permission. What laura & Co. did was to simply notify the police. This is shambolic even in your own statement you are contradicting yourself by selecting 2 similar cases in which the outcome hasn’t been the same with the Lauras

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    • Zambian citizen, I know you are a fairly intelligent person. I encourage you to take time to read the Public order act. It does not say you must get a permit. It says you must notify the police. You see my friend this is your problem. You are determined to defend PF at all costs. Even at the cost of your soul.
      I urge you to look at things objectively, with integrity. Not from a political agenda. These guys did nothing wrong. Even if you accused them of being sponsored by external forces to attack PF, a glance at their bank accounts, cars and houses will prove you wrong. But a look at the bank accounts of some PF ministers(dollar account $6milion, kwacha account K17million for one guy I won’t mention, but it’s there in FIC report), will show who has the interest of Zambia at heart.

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    • True. Notify and await their approval, no?? Laura and co. were told, because of opening of parliament, manpower will be stretched. So they were advised to postpone their “protest”. Instead, they went ahead knowing they can always dupe “international” organistions like AI and ignore local laws.

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    • They deserve what they got. Just like Pilato going to RSA and lying that someone wanted to kill him. He’s back and everyone looks at him like he’s mad.

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  3. This is what happens when a cadre tries to justify the intimidation of innocent citizens by govt. Laura and Co. followed the laid down channel of holding a peaceful protest. But, the govt, feeling very insecure unleashed its police turned cadres on innocent people. This case has taken long and has made a laughing stock of govt. Surely, there are many things they can do than prosecuting innocent people who followed the law.

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  4. $1 million for gonga fire trucks ,a 70% mark up on taxpayers money….and we are told lungu gets quaterly reports.

    Lungu got a $5 million commission.

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  5. This might be true AI but who is going to listen. The only protests allowed here are by PF cadres who don’t even need to notify the police.

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  6. Please laws in UK are not the same in UK you can be arrested at any minute if you are from middle east no permit required but same thing its against human rights nonse.
    Here you need a permit ,

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