Saturday, February 27, 2010

Attempted murder reports spark riots in Solwezi

Attempted murder reports spark riots in Solwezi
By David Chongo in Solwezi and Sututu Katundu in Lusaka
Fri 26 Feb. 2010, 19:30 CAT

ZAMBEZI residents have rioted, looted and damaged property belonging to a local businessman and others after he was accused of having attempted to murder his saleslady in a forest on Wednesday. Meanwhile, police have arrested the businessman for attempted murder and 42 others for riotous behavior and malicious damage to property.

Northern Western Province police commanding officer, Fabian Katiba confirmed in an interview that the riot, lasting several hours, resulted in damage to property belonging to the named businessman.

“We had riotous behaviour starting from 09:30 hours until late in the afternoon. It involves a businessman named Kenneth Likola and his saleslady,” he said.

Katiba explained that Likola, who owns several trading entities in the district, on Wednesday evening gave a lift to his saleslady identified as Carol Mateyo after business hours.

However, Likola is said to have diverted to a local forest 15km away where he produced a pistol and fired in the air.

According to police, confusion ensued between the two and somehow Mateyo managed to escape to a nearby village from where she sent a text message to her aunt about the incident.

Police stated that her aunt in turn informed them of the incident.
Later, Mateyo is said to have reported to the police in person followed by Likola himself.

The police then took the duo to the scene of the shooting in the forest.

“When people heard of the incident, they started breaking into his shops. Forty-two people have been arrested for riotous behaviour and malicious damage to property. Likola has been arrested for attempted murder,” said Katiba.

And an eyewitness told The Post in Solwezi that police had a tough time controlling the riotous residents and had to call for reinforcements from soldiers and some police officers from Chavuma.

“One of the two shops belonging to Likola has been completely looted with nothing remaining. The third shop has been shattered,” said one witness.

In a related development, reliable sources in Solwezi have revealed that government has deported 4 Congolese refugees, arrested a further 100 and detained a soldier who is alleged to have shot dead one of the refugees in connection with the recent disturbance at Meheba.

The sources also revealed that there were no Angolan refugees involved in the matter but only Congolese and some from Burundi.

The 100 refugees have been charged with unlawful gathering while the soldier has been remanded in police custody for a possible charge of murder.

And UNHCR has condemned the killing of a refugee woman at Meheba during an operation by the police, army and immigration on Wednesday.

In a statement released yesterday, UNHCR representative James Lynch welcomed the announcement by home affairs minister Lameck Mangani that investigations into the incident and use of force by security officers would take place.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the incident. We had hoped that this situation would have been resolved peacefully and without the use of force,” he said.

Lynch said the UNHCR understood that the aim of the operation was to bring to an end a protest by some 200 refugees, who had been occupying the administrative block in the settlement since end of January this year.

Lynch said the protest followed a legendary period of tension and unrest in the settlement over corrupt practices and fraud, which were investigated jointly and confirmed by the Commissioner for Refugees and UNHCR.

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