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CCZ bemoans police use of live ammo in Nakonde riots

THE Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) says its findings are that both the rioting citizens in Nakonde and the police were wrong in the roles they played resulting in the shooting of a man in both legs.

General secretary Reverend Canon Emmanuel Chikoya however said more blame must be heaped on the police for failing to be professional in managing the riot.

Fr Chikoya said CCZ was saddened that police officers had continued to use live ammunition to disperse aggrieved crowds.

“We have learnt with concern that despite continued calls from the Church, civil society and other stakeholders for police officers not to be trigger-happy, the trend of shooting indiscreetly at rioting crowds by our officers has continued,” he said. “As CCZ we are puzzled that police officers seem to resort to shooting even in situations where other means of dispersing crowds are available. It is our considered view that the use of live ammunition by police officers must be the last option, and only in a worst-case scenario.”

Fr Chikoya agreed with Nakonde member of parliament Yizukanji Siwanzi that what happened was not even a full-blown riot but rather something which could have become a riot if there was no intervention.

“We commend the police for their quick action which, however, was spoiled by their unnecessary use of maximum force. We do not support the behaviour by the residents in Nakonde who chose to riot by blocking the main road against government’s decision to lockdown the town. We, however, note with serious concern the use of live ammunition by the Zambia Police on unarmed civilians,” he said. “However, we are not saying citizens in Nakonde, like other citizens, cannot stage peaceful demonstrations to air their grievances. They have every right to express themselves provided they do so in a peaceful manner so as not to break the law.”

Fr Chikoya said what CCZ doesn’t support was destructive demonstrations such as damaging property and closing roads hence affecting other citizens in the process.

“Nevertheless, it was the duty of the police to ensure there was law and order in Nakonde and ensuring that lives were protected and not endangered. This entails the Zambia Police must ensure professionalism and the use of minimum force in the execution of their duties by keeping in mind that human dignity and rights are respected at all times,” said Fr Chikoya. “Our findings are that both the rioting citizens in Nakonde and the police were wrong in the roles they played resulting into the shooting of one man in both legs, but more blame must be heaped on the police for failing to be professional in managing the riot. We pray and wish the shooting victim a speedy recovery.”

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