Police have confirmed that three people have been killed by instant mob in separate incidents in Lusaka’s densely populated shanty areas on suspicion of being behind the spate of house gassing.
And latest reports show that officers from the Zambia Army have been deployed in Kanyama compound, one of the areas where the riots erupted.
Police Spokeswoman Esther Katongo told a media briefing that three men from Chawama, Kanyama and John Howard were burnt to death separately by angry mobs following riots.
“In the early hours of today, members of the public in Kanyama attacked and killed an unknown male person on suspicion of being one of the people spraying households with chemical substances. They also blocked some roads in the area. Police responded to the report and after picking the body with the view of taking it to UTH, the mob charged and blocked the road and begun throwing all sorts of objects at the officers. As a result, they damaged the Police vehicle for Kanyama Police and further went and caused some damage on the newly constructed police station in the area and a Police House,” Mrs Katongo said.
She added, “Later around 10: 30 Hours, a mob in Kanyama West damaged a Police post and killed one member of the public. Another mob went and damaged Mumbwa Road Police Post. Various private properties have been damaged by the mob and are yet to be quantified.”
Mrs Katongo said in a related development, irate members of the public in Chawama ‘s John Howard descended and killed an unknown male adult who was later burnt and later attacked police officers at the Police Station and seriously injured some officers who were on duty.
She said another disturbance was recorded in Lusaka’s Chaisa area but quick response by police saved the situation from deteriorating and officers are still on the ground monitoring the situation.
“As a result of the confrontation in Chawama and Kanyama, we recorded casualties from both sides. The operation is still on and officers are still on the ground. More details will be availed in due course.”
She added, “We reiterate our earlier call that people should be calm and allow the police to do their work without undue disturbance. The prevailing situation where members of the public are resorting to attacking police officers and getting to the street to riot is defeating the whole purpose of investigating the incidences of malicious administering of chemical substance on innocent citizens by criminals as the police may shift their attention to quelling riots.”
“We regret the loss of lives that have occurred, however, we wish warn the general public to desist from taking the law in their own hands as may come with serious repercussion.”
Mrs Katongo said the tendency by members of the public to attack and kill suspected criminals is unlawful and is against Zambian culture.
“We want to assure the general public and the nation at large that the police are doing everything possible to see to it that criminals behind this heinous crime are brought to book. We therefore call for patience and partnership from the general public,” Mrs Katongo said.
Unless they are beneficiaries, the PF should now direct their efforts against these criminals that are gassing people. Please show leadership now before citizens start taking the law in their own hands to protect themselves,Mr Hichilema said
And the PF says the opposition parties are behind the gassing of people’s homes.
PF Media Director Sunday Chanda alleges that PF is aware that opposition UPND’s foreign funders have run out of patience.
“One of Opposition’s tick boxes and conditions to continue receiving funding from their fatigued sponsors is if they can successfully fuel civil unrest and make Zambia ungovernable. UPND does not care about the peace and prosperity of Zambia,” he claimed.
“All they are concerned about is to get power by any means- even if it means leaving our nation in a bloodied ruin of ashes. Zambians can see through their wicked plans. We are watching every step they take and they can be assured that we are ten steps ahead of them. They are panicking and it’s just a matter of time when they will reap what they sow,” Mr Chanda said.
Meanwhile, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has called upon the PF government to restore order in the country.
Mr Hichilema urged the PF not to politicize the ongoing security threats in Zambia.
“The PF will politicize anything on earth and above, they know nothing but politics. As a matter of fact, they despise us because they say we are not politicians but managers. They are right, the country needs prudent management not this incompetence,” Mr Hichilema said.
“When the problem is economical, they politicize instead of finding solutions.They will politicize hunger or lack of hunger. When there is a drought they politicize, and when there are floods it is the usual politics,” he said.
“We have told them that the horrific serial killing spree must be halted and that they must redirect the public resources at their disposal to resolving the security crisis, they engage in blame games and finger pointing at others as being responsible. Arrest the criminals, take them to the courts of law and nip the problem in the bud, stop blame games and do your job,” he said.
Mr Hichilema said the continued gassing and putting of lives at risk by criminals while the PF pay a blind eye, is unfortunate for the country.
“Once more, we would like to condemn this barbaric behavior and call on Mr Edgar Lungu to for once show leadership by directing part of the State resources to protecting citizens from these criminals. Security for our people must come first and not vote buying,” he said.
“Our people are living in fear and spending sleepless nights yet Mr Edgar Lungu has remained mute on this very serious issue bordering on national security.”
He added, “Unless they are beneficiaries, the PF should now direct their efforts against these criminals that are gassing people. Please show leadership now before citizens start taking the law in their own hands to protect themselves.”
And Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa has called on Lusaka residents to remain calm.
Mr Sampa who toured the affected areas said order will soon be restored.
“This morning I took a tour of Kanyama township to check on the status after earlier disturbances from residents precipitated by night gassing of homes. Some culprits were arrested by the Police last night but residents pounced on police stations demanding to be given the arrested so that they burn them,” Mr Sampa said.
“Police resisted this request and that’s what led to consequent riots and damage to public installations like solar street lights. We also visited victims of the fracas admitted at Kanyama clinic. We found most in stable conditions.”
“Our appeal to residents of Lusaka is to remain calm but vigilant. Report to the police even at any sign or minimal danger of gassing. I witnessed the police patrolling the entire Kanyama and I gather it will be so overnight in all Lusaka townships. We shall prevail and get arrested all involved with the gassing antics,” he reassured.