Arresting officer fails to identify UPND cadres he nabbed for riotous conduct

Arresting officer fails to identify UPND cadres he nabbed for riotous conduct

By Bwembya Bwembya

A POLICE officer on Friday failed to identify UPND cadres he arrested when they allegedly went to demand for Sylvia Masebo’s immediate release while she was detained at Lusaka Central Police in 2015.

The officer could also not tell the court whether he arrested a man or a woman.

In this case, police in Lusaka arrested over 12 cadres and charged them with rioting contrary to the Laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that on September 16, 2015, in Lusaka, the 12 jointly and while acting together with other persons unknown, being part of an unlawful assembly, executed a common purpose by a breach of the peace and to the terror of the public.

Testifying in the case before Lusaka magistrate Felix Kaoma, inspector Joe Nguni, 50 of Sikanze Police Camp said while he was on duty at Lusaka Central Police, there was a group of suspected UPND cadres clad in party regalia outside the premises.

He said the cadres, who were more than 20, were chanting slogans while demanding the immediate release of Masebo.

Nguni said he was on the third floor but he could see the cadres through the window and as he descended downstairs, they became violent and started throwing stones.

He said when he was on the second floor, he saw a stone hit the windowpane and commotion later ensued.

Nguni said the police used teargas to control the cadres and an order was later given for them to be arrested.

He told the court that he remembered arresting a cadre.
However, when asked if that person was before court, Nguni seemed to be in doubt.

When asked further to step down and walk to the accused dock to identify the person he arrested by tapping them on the shoulder as required, the police officer looked at all the accused persons and without acting went back to the witness dock.

Nguni then told magistrate Kaoma that he could not identify anyone and this caused laughter in court.

“Your honour, it’s been long since it happened in 2015. I have failed to identify them,” Nguni told the court while smiling.

At this point, magistrate Kaoma asked the state why they did not just withdraw the case instead of going into trial wasting the court’s time, seeing that the witness could not even identify anyone he arrested.

Defence lawyer Keith Mweemba also wondered why the state brought the case to court with such evidence.

But the prosecutor insisted that other witnesses would come and identify those they arrested.

In cross-examination, Mweemba asked the witness if he could tell the court whether he arrested a man or woman, but Nguni failed to state.

The State said it had nothing to re-examine the witness on and asked the court to adjourn the case for continued hearing.

Magistrate Kaoma adjourned the case to February 13 and warned the state to make available all the witnesses on that day.