Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mongu cop vows to continue the Barotse fight

Mongu cop vows to continue the Barotse fight
By Roy Habaalu in Mongu
Sat 23 Apr. 2011, 04:02 CAT

WE will continue fighting for what belongs to us in Barotseland and no amount of intimidation will stop us, says Mubita Sikwa.

Sikwa, a police superintendent who was charged for treason in connection with the confusion over the Barotseland Agreement, said the people of Western Province should carry on with the struggles that he and others were detained for.

Addressing mourners at the burial of 71-year-old Mwiya Sihope whose leg was amputated after he was released from prison, Sikwa warned that it was the last arrest government had made because next time people will react.

“Don’t be intimidated, I am a police officer and superintendent for that matter. I am not released yet and they (government) will not because I am strong and they can’t match me. We've lost a person who was fighting for all of us and those who loved him should carry on with his struggles so that Barotseland is liberated,” said Sikwa.

“His (Sihope's) soul will only rest in peace if you people carry his torch of struggle. We're not afraid of anything because it is correct to be arrested over our land Barotseland. We demanded development and we told them (government) the truth and this is what has caused this death,” he said.

Earlier mourners denounced government officials for allegedly causing the death of Sihope. During the laying of wreaths when government representatives were called, mourners protested saying there was no need because they caused the death.

Mourners also demanded that members of Linyundandambo, Barotse Freedom Movement (BFM), Movement for the Restoration of Barotseland (MOREBA) be called to lay wreaths.

Sikwa, who repeatedly referred to Western Province as Barotseland, said Sihope’s asthmatic condition worsened in Lusaka Central Prison due to congestion and lack of ventilation.

He said it was surprising that asthma could lead to one’s being amputated.

“When he came into prison he was moving on two feet and due to bad conditions in prison, 15 others who were detained collapsed shortly after entering the cells. After they refused to take Sihope to hospital, we organised ourselves and met the officer-in-charge who was junior to me in rank and told him Sihope was not fine and that it was the last arrest they had made…after the minister was informed he was taken to UTH but it was late though he was happy with the medication than when he was in Lewanika General Hospital in Mongu,” he said.

And Liamba Nayoto, a former Barotseland activist who was a close friend of Sihope, said people among themselves betrayed him and those in incarceration.

He said a few known MMD political cadres were paid to point at anyone they thought contributed to the Mongu riots.

“Whoever reported us won't live longer before he's known. Because of the love of money they've caused this death. I know that tomorrow police will come and pick me for saying this but I’m not scared,” he said.

Meanwhile Caritas Mongu director Nathaniel Mubukwanu who frequently visited Sihope in detention said some police officers told him that those arrested were living better than their dogs at home and had no reason to complain.

He said during one of his visits to the prison, Sihope complained to him of pain in the leg but the government denied him treatment.

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