A POLICE operation to rid the tourist capital of drug peddlers and criminal gangs known as ‘Junks’ turned riotous in Maramba township.
But a joint operation by law enforcement agencies in Lusaka’s Chibolya compound on Friday evening resulted in the apprehension of 113 suspects.
As at 11:30 hours a combined team of wildlife, Drug Enforcement Commission, Livingstone City Council and Zambia Police in riot gear were still running battles with youths who resorted to burning tires, and mobile phone booths on President Road famously known as Kaunda Road.
Business at Maramba’s Mbita market come to a standstill as traders closed their shops and marketers abandoned their stands.
An armed police officer was heard telling on-lookers to return to their homes.
“Yendani kumunzi, ngati mulibenyumba (Go back to your villages if you don’t have a house),” the officer yelled to some women and men drinking opaque brew Chibuku.
A police source said the operation targeting Maramba’s Malota area started at around 04:00 hours.
“We have made several arrests of people found with drugs such as marijuana, some weapons and goods suspected to have been stolen. This operation is a combined team of wildlife, DEC, council and some other security wings,” the source said.
Southern Province police commissioner Diamond Likashi asked this reporter to contact police spokesperson Esther Katongo for comment.
“Get in touch with our spokesperson. I also don’t have anything, I am still waiting,” said Likashi.
For the Lusaka operation, in a joint statement, the Zambia Police Service, Drug Enforcement Commission and the Department of Immigration said ‘Operation Chalo’, which began in the late hours of Friday into yesterday morning, was aimed at disrupting illegal activities in Chibolya following numerous complaints from the public.
The statement adds that the operations were conducted country-wide.
“Out of the one hundred and thirteen persons apprehended, fifty-three were for immigration related offences, thirty-three for drug related offences, while twenty-seven were for general crimes such as being found in possession of suspected stolen property,” reads the statement.
It added that the majority of those apprehended for immigration related offences did not produce documents to prove their legal immigration status in Zambia at the time of the operation.
“Screening to ascertain their immigration status in Zambia continues,” the statement reads.
It further stated that a significant amount of different psychotropic and other banned substances was found, including cannabis, suspected cocaine, boxes of Benylin codeine and instruments used to administer drugs.
“The exact weight, purity and value of the psychotropic substances will be determined following further forensic testing,” it stated.
The statement stated that the operation was a “fitting example” of inter-agency collaboration in disrupting criminal activities and networks, and commended officers from the three security wings for working hard to counter criminal activities in Lusaka.
“The arrests should serve as a warning to would-be offenders. They should know that our security departments will not relent in doing everything possible to maintain internal security,” reads the statement jointly issued by Esther Mwaata Katongo (ZP), Namati Nshinka (Immigration) and Theresa Katongo (DEC).
“These operations and remain ongoing and further arrests have not been ruled out. Further, the outcomes from operations from other parts of the country will be given once compiled.”