Friday, August 16, 2013

Stay where you are, Rupiah tells Henry
By Joseph Mwenda and Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 27 July 2013, 14:01 CAT

RUPIAH Banda says he has instructed his fugitive son Henry never to return to Zambia because the government will torture him.

Banda was visibly angry when he visited his son Andrew at Woodlands Police Station on Thursday after he was detained on allegations of defaming President Michael Sata.

When Banda arrived at the police station, he requested to see his son, but was told that Andrew had been locked up.

"Where is he? Tell them I want to see him… He is in cells already? But why? No! I don't remember doing this to anybody's child myself. This is very sad. What is going on in our country?" he wondered.

His supporters came to greet him after he arrived at the police station and he complained of a flu infection.

"Tili bwino kaya nao, chinfine tyala chaninyokola. (I am fine and how are you, the flu has hit me…) I have been in bed yesterday and today," he said.

Banda went on to defend his son's defamatory statement against President Sata and described his arrest as politically orchestrated.

"Even if he said, sonny, let's assume that he said something, so what? As a president, people must be free to talk about you. They can say anything they want. I am insulted every day but I do not respond. He himself insulted (chief) Jumbe recently. He also insulted me during campaigns and he gained popularity out of insulting me and it paid him. But today people are not allowed to talk about him, why?" he asked.

Banda also complained that his family was being harassed by the government and that he was falsely accused of stealing government money to buy oil.

"They say I stole money to buy oil, but all of a sudden the story changed."

Asked if he would advise Henry to come and answer to charges of diverting government oil proceeds into a private offshore account, Banda said he would never allow it.

"I will never allow him to come here. They want him to come here so that they can torture him. I tell him you have not done anything wrong, just stay where you are. I will remain here myself," he said.

Banda advised President Sata not to listen to ill advice from some senior government officials and police officers whom he said were eager to avenge their misfortunes.

"They are using the same police officers who want revenge. This is what they did to me, they used to tell me to fix some people but I never did that. Some of them I removed them from their positions," he said.

Banda wondered why the PF was targeting his children for their involvement in election campaigns when President Sata's son Mulenga participated too.

"The other day I met the President's son (Mulenga). I asked him, how do you feel seeing your friend being in all this? I used to see him with his father climb the podium to campaign and I said he is a good son trying to support his father. But what is wrong with my son helping me to campaign?" Banda wondered.

He thanked the Agence France Press (AFP) correspondent who was present to report Andrew's arrest.

"The world is seeing and God is seeing. The One Who created us is seeing what is happening in this country," he said.

After Andrew was released at around 19:00 hours, Banda, who had waited outside the station for about two hours thanked his lawyers Milner Katolo and Associates and other sympathisers who were present.

"Thank you very much. This is a political case, it's a difficult one but you have handled it very well. Where is Andrew? Please tell him to keep his mouth shut this time," said Banda before leaving.

And police have withdrawn a matter where Andrew, allegedly defamed President Sata on condition that he does not repeat the offence.

Police acting public relations officer Rae Hamoonga, Milner and Andrew himself confirmed the latest twist in the matter where he was locked up at Lusaka's Woodlands Police Station on Thursday after he appeared in his solicitation case before Lusaka chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda.

Hamoonga said depending on how Andrew, who allegedly defamed President Sata in public utterances he made in Chipata, conducts himself, the matter might not proceed.

"If he misbehaves himself the way we suspect he misbehaved himself, then he will be arrested for defamation of the President," he said. "If he behaves well, the case will end."

Hamoonga said a warn and caution statement that they recorded from Andrew could go either way.

Katolo said the withdrawal was announced to Andrew during an interaction with senior officers at service headquarters in Lusaka yesterday morning.

"He is home," said Katolo when asked where Andrew was. "The allegation has been withdrawn and the matter has been closed."

Katolo said the police officers advised Andrew to go and be a good citizen.

But Andrew said in an interview yesterday that he had always been a law-abiding citizen and that he had put behind what he underwent at the hands of the police on Thursday.

"I have always been a good citizen and I mean well for the country," he said. "This is an issue of protection of democracy in our country. Some of us are worried that democracy will be made irrelevant."

Andrew said he co-operated with the police but that the manner in which he was roughed up by the police officers at the Lusaka Magistrates' Court premises was excessive.

"I have my own lament about the manner in which those young officers handled the issue at the court. I think they were overzealous. I am a person who has always co-operated with the police," he said. "A number of them were excited for nothing. I wonder how they feel now. These are the things that embarrass the police."

Andrew thanked the police high command for the professional manner they handled the issue, but demanded that there should not be selective justice.

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