A discredited police

Deputy inspector general of police in-charge of operations Bonnie Kapeso says “people think we are friends, even the pistols that we carry, they think we can’t kill them, we can’t disable them, the idea of course is not to kill [but] to disable someone in the legs”.

“Police officers must not allow people to come close to the police station and destroy it. What are you doing police officers? They even start beating police officers at the police station and you have a gun! Ooh my God! Where are we going? We must use force and legally by law,” says Kapeso. “I have to fire a gun, not a blank. That is why Zambia Police Force was a better organisation than Zambia Police Service as it is because they have lost respect for us.”

It’s clear that there are profound fractures in trust between the police and the communities they are charged with protecting. Though the potential for such fractures is always present given the role of police in society, building and maintaining trust between police and the public is critical for the health of Zambian democracy. However, in an era when information technology has the potential to greatly increase transparency of police activities in a variety of ways, building and maintaining trust is challenging. Doing so likely requires steps taken by both the police and the public to build understanding and relationships that can sustain trust through tragic incidents that can occur in the course of policing — whether it is a citizen’s or officer’s life that is lost.

It’s the unprofessional conduct that has undermined public trust in the police.

The command has surrendered its responsibility to politicians. Today Stephen Kampyongo, the Minister of Home Affairs, has usurped the powers of the police command and is using them for his own political survival.

Today Kampyongo is the one determining who should be given a police permit to hold a rally or demonstration.

Even recruitment of police officers is being carried out by the politicians.

And this is the worst the police has been in terms of political interference. The Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has literally surrendered his powers to Kampyongo. He is nothing but a spineless pimp. And Kapeso’s conduct is that of a Patriotic Front cadre. And this is not a recipe for running the police well and winning public respect.

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