Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kunda justifies Mongu killings

Kunda justifies Mongu killings
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 26 Feb. 2011, 04:01 CAT

Vice-President Kunda yesterday justified the Mongu killings, saying Zambia Police officers are allowed to use firearms in exceptional circumstances.

He was responding to a parliamentary question raised by Luena Alliance for Democracy and Development ADD parlimentarian Charles Milupi over the Mongu riots. Vice-President Kunda said police had blocked the Barotse activists' meeting after suspecting it could generate violence or loss of life as indicated on some flyers.

Vice-President Kunda (right) said the Litunga's Limulunga palace was to be overrun and the Litunga deposed, while the Barotse flag would be hoisted before declaring Barotseland independent from Zambia contrary to the Constitution.

“Huge crowds of people seemingly militant and determined to carry out the purpose of executing their desires gathered and marched towards Mongu town centre and Limulunga chanting slogans of secession from the Republic of Zambia by force,” Vice-President Kunda said.

He said some people were armed with machetes, catapults, spears and sjamboks to use against the police.

Vice-President Kunda said police used tear gas to disperse the charging mob but the long batons that the police had could not match machetes and spears.

“The mob could not be moved even when the police fired in the air,” he said. “The police officers' lives were in danger. As a result, they had no choice but to use reasonable force to protect life and property and arrest the rioters.

Vice-President Kunda said the mob ran towards the filling station at Mongu town centre, where one of them picked a piece of burning tyre with the intention of setting the petrol tanks ablaze.

According to Vice-President Kunda, police officers shouted at him to stop and warned him they were about to use a firearm.

“The man did not stop. The police decided to stop him by disabling him with a bullet, unfortunately the bullet hit him in a wrong part of the body and he later died in hospital,” Vice-President Kunda said. “The security agencies performed their duties professionally and forestalled further loss of life and property.”

He said there was no justifiable basis to call for the dismissal of the Minister of Home Affairs, Inspector General of Police, the commanding officer Western Province and other officers.

Vice-President Kunda said the government deemed it necessary to move detainees charged with minor offences from Mongu because on previous occasions whenever accused persons appeared in court on related charges, they engaged in riotous behaviour.

“As regards claims for compensation for injuries and death arising from these riots, all those affected are at liberty to pursue such claims through the courts of law, if they can prove their claims,” Vice-President Kunda said. “The state shall be at liberty also to explain its side of the story in such court proceedings.”

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