POLICE in Chipata have picked up 34 people in connection with the riots that were sparked by the death of a resident of Magazine compound.
On Monday residents of Mchini and Magazine compounds engaged in riotous behaviour following the death of a Magazine youth who was allegedly beaten by a Mchini based gang.
Eastern Province police commissioner Luckson Sakala said four of the 34 suspects were found with dangerous weapons.
“Some of the offensive weapons they were found with are knives, machetes and iron bars. At the same time, those four have very serious injuries and we just issued medical report forms so that they go to the hospital to get attended to,” he said. “We are yet to charge all the 34 people after scrutinising them.”
Sakala said the suspects would be charged with engaging in riotous behaviour.
He said the four found with dangerous weapons were also being investigated for murder.
Sakala said the death of the youth sparked tensions between residents of the two areas as youths from Mchini mobilised themselves and prevented Magazine residents from burying the deceased in Mchini.
Sakala said burial took place after police intervened and the suspects were picked up.
He said the four suspects have since been charged with murder.
And Samuel Phiri, Dilika ward councillor in Chipata Central Constituency, said following the death of the Magazine resident, some people from the area went to Mchini compound to search for the suspected assailants.
“What happened is that a suspected gang from Mchini compound beat up someone from Magazine who later died in hospital. In reaction, the people from Magazine went to attack places where those suspected gangs are found,” Phiri explained. “Now today (Monday) the people of Magazine wanted to bury at Mchenga graveyard so the Mchini residents were saying they don’t want people from Magazine compound to bury from Mchenga graveyard because they destroyed their homes in the night.”
Phiri said he addressed residents of both Mchini and Magazine areas with his Kanjala ward counterpart William Phiri, adding that the issue had been resolved.
“The police rushed on the scene earlier than us and they controlled the situation. We addressed people in Mchini and later Magazine residents. So we addressed the people from the roadside where they had gathered as well as at the funeral house,” Phiri said. “We talked about the need for them not to take the law into their hands.”
Mchini resident, James Sakala, appealed to police to conduct night patrols in the two compounds.