Friday, January 18, 2013

Hichilema's cadres assault cop

Hichilema's cadres assault cop
By Ernest Chanda
Fri 18 Jan. 2013, 14:00 CAT

UNRULY UPND cadres yesterday assaulted a police officer at Lusaka's Woodlands Police Station where their leader Hakainde Hichilema had been summoned to answer to charges of insulting President Michael Sata.

Hichilema was arrested and charged with defamation of the President over his utterances in Lusaka's Kalikiliki compound where he called President Sata a thief and accused him of being corrupt. The cadres assaulted constable Adam Banda after hitting him with a stone on the head.

Banda sustained a deep cut on his head and bled profusely before being rushed to the hospital. The cadres later got engaged in an altercation with other police officers, including spokesperson Elizabeth Kanjela who they accused of assaulting Banda. Immediately Hichilema arrived at Woodlands Police Station, the cadres hurled invectives at police officers who watched helplessly. The arrival of one of Hichilema's advisers, Douglas Syakalima, heightened the commotion as he too engaged in a quarrel with a uniformed police officer from whom he demanded respect.

Other cadres, high on alcohol, hurled insults at police officers and threatened to beat them up; accusing them of being PF sympathisers. Earlier in the morning at Police Force Headquarters, Hichilema refused to be interviewed from the offices upstairs, fearing that his team could be tear-gassed.

Hichilema arrived at 10:00 hours in the company of his lawyers Sakwiba Sikota, Jack Mwiimbu and Martha Mushipe. Several UPND cadres, who also accompanied Hichilema, caused commotion and they complained about the teargas canisters that were used to disperse them at Lusaka's Central Police when Hichilema appeared for questioning last year.

"Last time you tear-gassed us upstairs. Let's be orderly, let's be orderly. Who is in charge here? There will be no interview upstairs, full stop; because you teargas people and you want to kill people upstairs. There'll be an interview downstairs, not upstairs," Hichilema demanded. Later the two parties reached a compromise and Hichilema was interviewed in one of the rooms on the ground floor. And after the interview before being taken to Woodlands Police Station for official arrest, Hichilema told journalists that he was not scared of being arrested. "They are even following me in court which is contemptuous of court. They have been coming to my house, so today I decided to come," said Hichilema. "They have charged me for a case where I said the President was protecting Wynter Kabimba when he went to the Anti Corruption Commission and he refused to be interviewed there, so I made a comment about that; that's what they have called me for. I know they've just changed because they know that the public had pressure on the Kalikiliki visit."

And Kanjela confirmed that Hichilema had been charged with defamation of the President.
"We've arrested Mr. Hakainde Hichilema the president of the UPND for defamation of the President, contrary to Section 66 of the Penal Code. He is appearing in court today (yesterday) at 14:30 hours; he's been released on bond. It is believed that on the 13th of January he had uttered some words which we believe are coming up to form the crime of defamation of the President," said Kanjela.
And Hichilema expressed fear that the government had planned to have him locked up even after he had been granted police bond. After he was granted police bond and told to appear in court at 14:30 hours, Hichilema told the police officer who was explaining to him that the bond would only last for a few hours, as the court would not extend it.

Hichilema was released on a KR5000 police bond with two working sureties.
"I'm supposed to appear in court today? Then they want the bond to expire so that they lock me up; that's what they have planned," said Hichlema. But a plain clothed police officer explained to him that even when he would be appearing in court, his bond would still be valid. "This bond is for today and you are appearing at the magistrate court at 14:30 hours," explained the police officer.

"Why don't you take me to court now?" Hichilema asked.

But Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo chipped in and assured Hichilema that since they had signed the police bond, Hichilema would go home.

But Hichilema insisted and said: "They will cancel the bail there (at court), they'll not issue the bail; that's why they want court to be afternoon." But police officers assured Hichilema that his bond would be extended even at court.

Thereafter, Hichilema understood and was later ushered to his vehicle by his party officials and sympathisers.

Meanwhile, MMD president Nevers Mumba described Hichilema's arrest as ridiculous.

"Mr. Sata is digging a grave for himself. If the God I worship is there in heaven you watch the space. God will bring justice in this country; this cannot be allowed to continue," said Mumba.

"This is ridiculous! This is criminal! Not from our side but from those who wish to oppress our rights and take away our liberties. And we can promise them our liberties will not be lost over our blood."
Meanwhile, Hichilema appeared in the Lusaka Magistrate's Court yesterday afternoon in connection with the defamation of the President charges but the matter could not take off because the state, according to his lawyer Sakwiba Sikota, was not ready.

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