Police in Ndola have arrested a senior official from the ruling PF over the smuggling of mealie meal to the Congo DR.
PF Ndola District Youth Secretary Oscar Himanga was picked up on Monday afternoon as he attempted to smuggle 70×25 Kilogramme bags of mealie meal to the DRC through an illegal bush path in Kawama area via the Ndola-Mufulira road.
Mr. Himanga who is also PF Kamba Ward Councilor was immediately detained at Kawama Police Station before he was transferred to Chifubu Police Station where he was in detention until Thursday.
Copperbelt Province Police Commissioner Charity Katanga confirmed the arrest in an interview in Ndola adding that Mr Himanga will appear in court soon.
On Wednesday, Ndola City Council held an emergency Council Meeting to discuss the matter and agree on disciplinary measures to be meted out on Mr Himanga for bringing the name of the Council into disrepute.The resolutions of the Emergency Council Meeting have not yet been made public.
And some police sources have revealed that Mr Himanga was infact arrested along with some PF youths based in Ndola who were part of the smuggling ring.The group was only released after PF Provincial Chairman Nathan Chanda intervened in the matter and facilitated for the payment of the police bond.
The senior police officers have also indicated that there is pressure from Mr Chanda’s Provincial Executive to drop the case as they fear that it will damage the party’s reputation and upset President Edgar Lungu.
“What we know is that Himanga and his friend have been doing this smuggling business for a long time and somehow one of the youths in the party tipped the police. On Monday, they had two trucks laden with mealie meal destined for Congo, the police pounced on them when the first truck was about to cross using the bush path but somehow the second truck was diverted, perhaps the driver was alerted about the presence of the police. The first truck had 70×25 KG bags and it now parked at Chifubu Police Station covered in a tent,” the police source said.
The source said Himanga had initially resisted arrest and threatened to deal with the arresting officers if they went ahead with their procedure saying “he was a big man in the party.”But police officers were unfazed by the threats and went ahead to pick him up together with the truck along with some youths.
Meanwhile, some PF members in Ndola have called on PF Secretary General Davies Mwila to step in and bring sanity to the party on the Copperbelt.They stated that the arrest of party officials for smuggling is just a tip of the iceberg of the many illegalities that party officials are engaging themselves in using the name of the party.
“What is happening is that these party officials are so greedy and their greediness is affecting the popularity of the party in the province. The people of the Copperbelt now feel that the PF officials are eating alone neglecting the people who voted the party into office. If President Lungu doesn’t act quickly, the party will go into oblivion,” the official said.
They added, “the current district and provincial officials have shown that they are in the office just for their own interest. If it is not smuggling, then it is contracts or the Black Mountain. We need to open up our eyes or else the PF is finished in the province.”