Thursday, January 21, 2010
By Patson Chilemba and Masuzyo Chakwe
Thu 21 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
FDD president Edith Nawakwi yesterday charged that it is very foolish for Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde to suggest that anyone threatening to rape her is not committing an offence. And Police spokesperson Bonny Kapeso has contradicted Kabonde's position over the matter, saying it is an offence to threaten violence against other citizens.
Reacting to Kabonde's statement that there was no offence in the threat by MMD cadres to gang-rape Nawakwi, Nawakwi said whereas President Rupiah Banda and Kabonde were quick to prosecute and term Post news editor Chansa Kabwela's genuine concerns over the woman that delivered outside the University Teaching Hospital as pornography, the recent threats by the MMD thugs were sweet music to their ears.
“Ask Kabonde the IG, if someone stood up and said I'm going to gun down … and a threat to rape, what is the difference? Because there is intent to kill, that is why in court you say malice, you actually killed someone maliciously because you start by issuing a threat. In household, if someone stands up in the house and says 'I'm going to shoot you', you actually go to the police to say 'this one is threatening to shoot me.' It is a criminal offence,” Nawakwi said. “Now this foolish Kabonde, can he please define the difference. If today I stood up and said 'I'm going to shoot …,' would he actually stand up and say it is not a criminal offence?
“Because you see, this business of patronage is why every government changes these people, they are not professional. You will never have a career public service in this country as long as the appointing authority is the President. He could have answered you professionally to say 'I have not heard a complaint'. He goes beyond his professional duty to that of defining what is criminal and what is not criminal. I have been injured, and I don't expect a cop to be making a judgment.”
Nawakwi said Kabonde was not a person who could take professional positions on national matters.
“But you know, Francis Kabonde, I knew him when he was superintendant at Lusaka Central Police. One day, I was standing next to him, and we were chatting at Kafue roundabout, one minister called him to say 'why are you talking to that woman?' And he moved 14 metres and drew a cannister and threw it at me. They told him 'teargas her',” Nawakwi said. “He can't deny that. I said 'my friend, what happened?' He was so depressed, he said to me 'If I didn't do that, I was instructed to teargas. If I didn't do that, you wouldn't have found me in this office'.”
Nawakwi said Kabonde was merely paying homage to President Banda who had spread his tentacles everywhere.
She said she would lodge a formal complaint for Kabonde not to have an excuse should President Banda and his henchmen implement their threat against her.
Nawakwi said people like MMD cadre Kadobi were supposed to be behind bars.
“If a criminal associates with me, what does it tell of me? Birds of the same feathers flock together,” said Nawakwi.
Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata described Kabonde's statement as utter nonsense.
Sata said Kabonde was actually inciting violence, going by his partisan position over important national issues.
Sata said Kabonde may have even incited MMD thugs to kill Ndola diocese treasurer general Fr Augustine Mwewa.
And in a press statement, Kapeso noted that it was an offence to threaten violence.
“Under Section 90 of the Penal Code of the Laws of Zambia, threatening violence is a criminal offence like any other offences contained therein. In fact, any person who commits this offence is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for five years with hard labour,” stated Kapeso. “Any person who feels aggrieved has the right to report to any nearest police station so that investigations can commence. Where complaints are not reported to the police, it will be difficult for us to open investigations.”
Non Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) executive director Engwase Mwale said Kabonde, being the inspector general, required to take leadership in promoting peace and harmony in the country.
Mwale said the fact that the police's mandate was to promote peace and order simply meant in the public eye that they must be seen to be supporting this.
“We find it morally wrong that the IG could publicly state that threatening violence was not an offence,” she said.
Mwale urged Kabonde to refrain from taking the stance he had taken as he was seen to be supporting violence publicly rather than abating it.
She called on Kabonde to rescind his stance and take up his rightful position to protect ordinary citizens especially women and children.
Mwale said for the women movement, any violence threatened on one woman was violence threatened on all women.
Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) secretary general Reverend Suzanne Matale said it was shocking to hear the top cop of the land say that it was not an offence to threaten someone's life.
Rev Matale said such statements put the security of individuals at risk.
“I hope that Mr Kabonde has been misquoted. Threats of a serious nature like raping a woman and promising violence should not be taken lightly. We can only urge Mr Kabonde to take such threats seriously before it is too late,” she said.
She said one would expect that Kabonde would speak firmly and take action against threats of any kind as a top cop.
She said actions began with an idea which was then verbalised, finalised and implemented.
Rev Matale said those political cadres must be restrained from issuing threats.
“They must be stopped and in fact must be arrested and put away before they carry out their threats. Zambia stands at crossroads to either move ahead as one people in unity and peace or degenerate into a lawless society,” she said.
She said the police must take the lead in enforcing security of individuals and whole societies.
Rev Matale said to stand by as often witnessed like policemen and women do during conflict was a slap in the face of many peace loving Zambians.
“We demand that police take up their rightful role of protecting all Zambians whether they are under threat of being physically harmful or otherwise and regardless of their political affiliations,” said Rev Matale.
And Women in Law and Development in Africa (WilDAF) and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) also registered their regret, alarm and disbelief over the statement by Chalwe.
WiLDAF regional chairperson Gladys Mutukwa and WLSA regional coordinator Matrine Chuulu stated that Chalwe's statement underscored the impunity with which women's rights had been violated without due protection from the government.
“We note with deep regret that since Sunday, there is no leader both in government or the MMD that has condemned this regressive and insulting statement. Mr Chalwe's intentions against Ms Nawakwi are an insult to the dignity of Zambian women and should render Mr Chalwe and his gang open to police probe. We wish to remind Mr Chalwe and his gang that gang rape is not only inhuman but constitutes one of the worst forms of violence against women,” they stated.
They stated that the impunity with which the statement was made should remind every Zambian of the daily silent suffering of thousands if not millions of women at the hands of perpetrators of violence against women.
The duo stated that the case of a Luwingu housewife who was allegedly battered and had a burning piece of wood inserted into her private parts was among the many that typifies the daily lives of women in Zambia.
They called upon the police to take appropriate action by arresting Chalwe for threatening violence and the husband of the Luwingu housewife.
The women called upon the MMD leadership to take appropriate action against Chalwe and his gang over his insulting statement to the women of Zambia.
“We further call upon religious leaders, political party leaders and the Zambian society in particular to take a definite stand on violence against women in Zambia,” stated Mutukwa and Chuulu.
On Monday, MMD cadres threatened to gang-rape Nawakwi over her statements on governance issues, and on Tuesday Kabonde said it was not an offence to threaten another person with violence.