Inspector General of Police Lemmy Kajoba has warned persons or anyone making what he claimed as false claims to have played a role in rescuing the victims and are soliciting for money or favours to stop forthwith as this amounts to an offence that is prosecutable under our laws.
In a statement released to the media, Mr Kajoba further warned that people soliciting for money or favours to stop immediately as this amounted to an offence that is prosecutable under our laws.
Police have also revealed that prior to the rescue of the girls by Robby Chitambo, one of the girls had already escaped and was taken to police Godfrey Miyanda police post by a good Samaritan.
Inspector General of Police Lemmy Kajoba said after four mobile money agents and nine nursing students were abducted, not all cases were brought before the attention of security wings.
“Members of the public may wish to note that not all the cases of abduction were reported to police as parents thought their children were in school , whilist school authorities assumed that the students had gone home,” he said.
He said following reported abduction cases, with the most prominent being that of Pamela Chisumpa investigations intensified.
Mr Kajoba said as investigations intensified, intelligence gathered led to the apprehension of a named taxi driver who on October 2nd around 22:50 hours , who was once used by the abductors to deliver a laptop to one of the victims as collateral for a soft loan.
“The taxi driver was later picked by police and upon being interviewed, he revealed where he had picked the laptop and it turned out to be Chalala Choppies mall area where officers had been conducting surveillance for some time.
This information promoted officers to intensify patrols around Chalala’s Choppies mall and other surrounding areas,” he said.
He said on October 3rd, the social media profile for one of the suspects was identified by a lady who was frequently communicating with one of the suspects who wanted to lure her to visit him.
Mr Kajoba said the lady who was undercover after having reported to police went with her brother to the location that had been sent to her by one suspect and when she reached the vicinity, the suspect noticed that she was not alone and shouted at her.
“Upon realising that his possible victim was accompanied by a male person, he angrily shouted at her asking why she had not followed instructions by going alone. The suspect who was not putting on a shirt then sensed danger, quickly closed the gate, ran back to the house where he picked a short and hurriedly secures the house before jumping the wall fence into the next year and police pursued him,” he said.
He said upon noticing the panic of one of the suspects, one of the victims Dorcas Chungwe ceased the opportunity to break and open the door.
Mr Kajoba said after she opened the door, she met a good Samaritan Ellam Sinkala of Shantumbu who was driving along the road and he took her to the police post and she reported being among one of the girls held hostage.
“By this time, the other team of detectives(Plain clothed officers) who had chased the suspected abductor returned to the house for inquiries and upon reaching the house, officers found three boys with two women who were helping the remaining victims who were unable to walk on their own,” he said.
He said later it was discovered that the man who had runaway was one of the suspects Mathews Sikaonga who was apprehended with his accomplice James Mulenga in Western Province.
Mr Kajoba has since called on members of the public to continue cooperating as their is still a mammoth task to ensure the suspects are taken before the courts of Law.
He has further warned those peddling lies which have the potential to jeopardize the on going investigations to stop and has also further thanked the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Agency and members of the public who played a part in rescuing the victims.
Below is the full statement from Zambia Police
Statement by the Inspector General of Police on events leading to the rescue of the thirteen ladies held hostage in Chalala area
As a follow-up to our earlier statement issued on 3rd October, 2022 concerning the rescue of the thirteen ladies who were held hostage in Chalala area, we now wish to give an account what led to their release.
Preliminary investigations indicate that between 17th March and 18th June, 2022, four female mobile money agents were abducted namely; Faith Muluti aged 28, Pamela Chisupa aged 21, Paxina Chanda aged 22, and Macwani Nalukui aged 21. And between 15th August and 20th September 2022, nine nursing students from a named university in Chilanga district were abducted from their boarding houses.
Members of the public may wish to note that not all these cases were reported to the Police as parents thought their children were in school while the school authorities assumed that the students had gone home.
As all may be aware, this is a matter that we had promised to pursue until the abducted persons were found alive.
As investigations intensified, intelligence gathered led to the apprehension of a named taxi driver on sunday 2nd october, 2022 around 22:50 hours, who was once used by the abductors to deliver a laptop belonging to one of the abducted ladies as collateral for a soft loan from a money lender in Matero’s Shadreck compound.
The taxi driver was later picked by Police at family 24 along Lumumba road to help with investigations. Upon being interviewed, the taxi driver revealed where he had picked the laptop which turned out to be Chalala Choppies mall area where officers had been conducting surveillance for sometime. This information prompted officers to intensify patrols around Chalala’s choppies mall including Greg Lungu and Augustine Lungu roads.
On Monday, 3rd October, 2022, the social media profile for one of the suspect was identified through which a lady who was frequently communicating with the suspect on Facebook was also identified. In their communication, the suspect had tried to lure the lady to visit him and he shared his location using one of the abducted lady’s phone who at the time was not reported to have been abducted.
Armed with this information, officers in the company of the lady and the brother went to the same location. Upon reaching the vicinity, she went to the gate where she met the suspect who was without a shirt and engaged into a conversation whilst Police officers were monitoring from a distance.
Upon realising that she was accompanied by a male person, he angrily shouted at her saying he had instructed her to come alone. He then sensed danger, quickly closed the gate and ran back to the house where he picked a shirt and hurriedly secured the house where the abducted ladies were held before jumping the wall fence into the next yard and Police pursued him.
Upon noticing the panic of the abductor, one of the ladies, Dorcas Chungwe seized the opportunity to break and open the door. When the door was open, Dorcas came out first and jumped the fence and the rest of the ladies came out except the other three who could not manage to walk.
On the roadside, Dorcas met a good samaritan, Mr. Ellam Sinkala of Shantumbu who was driving along given Lubinda road and took her to Godfrey Miyanda Police post where she reported that she was among the ladies that were held, hostage. Police in the company of the victim and Mr, Sinkala drove back to the scene where they found the other ladies and people had gathered.
By this time, the other team of detectives (plain clothed Police officers) who had chased the suspected abductor returned to the house for inquiries. Upon reaching the house, officers found three boys with two women who were helping the remaining victims who were unable to walk on their own. The actions of the helpers came as a result of the commotion and distress calls from the abducted ladies.
Later on, it was discovered that the man who had run away was one of the suspects, Mathews Sikaonga, apprehended in Nkeyema together with his fellow accomplice, James Bwalya Mulenga, in connection with the abduction.
We are appealing to the public to continue cooperating with us as we still have a mammoth task of arraigning these suspects before the courts of law.
We have further noted with concern the continued speculations and falsehoods being peddled on social media which has the potential to jeopardise the on-going investigations. We further wish to warn persons or anyone making false claims to have played a role in rescuing the victims and are soliciting for money or favours to stop forthwith as this amounts to an offence that is prosecutable under our laws.
So far, preliminary investigations indicate that there were no other people who interacted with the ladies whilst in captivity other than the two key suspects, Mathews Sikaonga and James Bwalya Mulenga.
We, the Zambia Police service would like to extend gratitude to Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), mobile network operators, members of the general public and indeed all those that cooperated and played a part in saving the lives of the thirteen ladies. We indeed appreciate and commend your efforts.
You may wish to note that this is an ongoing investigation and members of the public will be kept abreast as the need may arise.
Inspector general of Police
8th october, 2022