Friday, August 07, 2009

MMD cadres continue their violence at court

MMD cadres continue their violence at court
Written by Mwala Kalaluka
Friday, August 07, 2009 2:52:08 PM

THERE was confusion at the Lusaka Magistrates Court Complex after MMD cadres beat up PF and UPND female cadres who went to give solidarity to Post news editor Chansa Kabwela.But Lusaka Province MMD chairman Cleopas Chimembe instructed police officers on the scene to arrest three UPND cadres that were allegedly heard insulting President Rupiah Banda.

During the hearing of the case where Kabwela is facing one count of circulating obscene materials with a view of corrupting public morals, chief resident magistrate Charles Kafunda was compelled to suspend the proceedings because of the noise by the singing and chanting MMD cadres.

The cadres were at the court to show their solidarity with Lusaka Province youth chairman Chris Chalwe, who was due to take plea in another court after he was arrested for assaulting journalists at the Lusaka International Airport.

Magistrate Kafunda briefly suspended Kabwela's trial and demanded to see counsels for both parties in his chambers.

Outside the courtroom, some MMD cadres were found singing and chanting party slogans within the perimeters of the court complex.

Some police officers that had been in magistrate Kafunda's courtroom joined their fellow officers and asked the MMD cadres to move away from the court complex.

Following a slight resistance the cadres moved away towards the main entrance, where a sizeable number of PF women and UPND cadres had converged while holding banners expressing their solidarity with The Post and Kabwela.

"Wamene a nyanta boma, ni wamene asokoneza [the one who steps on the government is the one who has brought confusion]," the MMD cadres sang as they headed for the main entrance.

As the MMD cadres, who were mostly a youthful lot, passed where the PF and UPND cadres were peacefully converged, some of them descended on the opposition political cadres.

A few number of police officers tried to contain the situation but the MMD cadres proceeded to grab the solidarity banners and chitenge materials for the UPND and PF cadres and tore them to shreds.

"Moto wa yaka [fire has been started]," some of the MMD cadres chanted as they burnt other banners and chitenges.

Others chased away the PF and UPND cadres from the main entrance and they scampered into the court perimeter in a bid to seek protection from the police.

The MMD cadres relentlessly followed the opposition cadres and beat up a few women, who were only rescued by the police.

One of the female UPND cadres was heard complaining to the police that such behaviour could cause more violence.

"Why did they go to their side? They do not know that those vitenges and banners they have torn and burnt were bought using money," she lamented. "Ba tipeza apa tiimba ba bwelo leta musokonezo [they found us singing peacefully and they brought confusion]."

Some of the UPND and PF cadres were heard asking the police what they were doing at the court if they could not contain the unruly MMD cadres.

An MMD cadre was heard telling one of the opposition cadres to get-off, because she was a nothing.

Another MMD cadre clad in a black balaclava pointed at this reporter, warning him not to write lies.

Lusaka division prosecution officer, Frank Mumbuna, and other senior police officers were heard pleading with a senior MMD member to ask his people to leave the court premises because they were disturbing court proceedings.

"Help us because if we go there we will just aggravate the situation," Mumbuna said. "Help is better we find a focal point person."

However, the MMD cadre insisted that it was not the MMD cadres that had sparked-off the confusion but the UPND and PF cadres that were insulting President Banda.

The cadre said they had not come for Kabwela's case but for Chalwe's matter.

Mumbuna then went to the scene of the confusion with the MMD cadre and he liaised with other senior police officers on the situation.

"We can't proceed with the proceedings," Mumbuna told the other officers. "The court says we cannot sit now when there is noise."

Mumbuna was then given a briefing on the situation by another senior police officer.

But Chimembe, who had just been addressing the slogan-chanting MMD cadres outside the court premises, was heard telling two police officers that there were cadres who could identify the two UPND and PF cadres that insulted President Banda.

"What has caused the problem were these same insults," Chimembe said before moving away from earshot.

He ordered the police to identify the three opposition cadres and arrest them on the spot.

"Because when it was happening I hear there were police officers helplessly watching," Chimembe said.

He said it was not right that the police officers had just watched people insult President Banda.

But the two police officers said they could not pounce on the people there and then and that the due process of the law be adhered to.

"It will be done," one of the police officers was heard saying.

Chimembe was later seen going to the cadres to urge them to move away from the place and a few minutes later Kabwela's trial resumed.

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