Saturday, April 19, 2008
By Times reporter
TIMES of Zambia senior reporter, Kaiko Namusa, was on Tuesday assaulted and detained for over an hour at Chipata Central police station for taking pictures of police officers who were manhandling a cyclist for allegedly breaking traffic rules. Mr Namusa, who is in Eastern Province accompanying Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM), said he was caught up in the fracas after being noticed to have taken photos of them beating a cyclist.
Mr Namusa said the officers, after beating him, grabbed his camera and demanded that the pictures be deleted, saying that if published they would tarnish their public image. They ordered him to accompany them to the police station alongside the cyclist who was also beaten up. While at the police station, he was told to sit on the floor along with other suspects amidst officers saying it was wrong for him to take photos in their town. He said when he demanded for the camera, the officers got annoyed and sought permission from the superiors to have him locked up.
One of their supervisors agreed that he be locked up for conduct likely to cause a breach of peace and only be released once his supervisors from Lusaka travelled to Chipata. At this point, PAM officials, who included Food Security Pack (FSP) national coordinator, Edward Zulu, and Bernadette Ngulube explained that the photos were taken in public interest but the officers dismissed them, warning that they should stay out of the issue. Mr Namusa was only released when one of the officers managed to delete the pictures from the camera.
Later, Eastern Province police commanding officer, Emlyn Mushondwa, apologised for his officers’ violent conduct. The matter has since been reported to the office of the Inspector General of Police for further action.
When contacted for a comment, police spokesperson, Bonny Kapeso, condemned the beating of the reporter, saying police officers should respect the work the media carried out. Mr Kapeso wondered how a journalist with just a notebook and a pen could pose a danger to the peace of the police officers. He said time and again Police Inspector General Ephraim Mateyo, had called on the police officers to respect the rights of the media but that it was sad that a few were still ignoring this call. “I will ask for a report from Eastern Province to establish exactly what happened and then take appropriate action,” he said. Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) condemned the beating and detention of Mr Namusa and demanded for disciplinary action against the officers.
“This is another example of police brutality against journalists and we demand that the Police Command take appropriate action against the culprits,” said PAZA president, Andrew Sakala.