State House agents fail to forcefully haul M’membe’s personal printing press
By Elly Musonda and Mwape Mbwelela
A THIRD attempt by State House agents to haul journalist Dr Fred M’membe’s personal printing press yesterday again lamentably and embarrassingly failed.
By press time, the seven officers sent by Lewis Mosho to seize the printing press, which was being used to print The Mast, gave up after several hours of trying to haul the machine out of the garage, destroying property in the process.
At some point, the state agents nearly fought when they argued about whether to keep trying hauling the machine out or to abandon the mission.
They later phoned their ‘bosses’ and informed them that the mission could not proceed as planned and that the only option was to leave the machine where it was.
After several minutes of phone conversations with their ‘bosses’, the visibly exhausted state agents were left with no option but to push back the machine where it was and left without a word.
On Friday, Crime-One force headquarters officer-in-charge only identified as Shonga on Friday led a four-man team of state agents to forcefully take away the remaining components of the printing press.
Shonga and his team arrived at Dr M’membe’s residence at around 15:55 hours with a hired 30-tonne forklift that disappointingly failed to lift the printer after an almost four-hour struggle.
In their first attempt, the visibly excited and overzealous police officers thought the job was easy but spent over two hours fruitlessly trying to push the machine onto the short prongs of the forklift.
The forklift’s driver advised the officers that the machine could not be moved without necessary tools such as chains, which they use when carrying heavy equipment.
Shonga then left the premises to fetch the chains and returned 40 minutes later.
The officers then used the chains to hook the printer to pull it out of the building since the forklift’s prongs could not reach the machine.
The careless pulling prompted Dr M’membe’s wife Mutinta and lawyers to remind Shonga that the warrant only permitted them to seize the property and not to damage it.
“We want to put it on record that what you are doing now is not seizure (of this property) but damage. There us no way you can come here to lift such a sensitive machine without engineers to advise you on how you should handle this property. So do you still want to continue handling this highly sensitive machine in this manner?” lawyer Sashi Kateka asked.
“Yes, we are going to continue as planned,” Shonga responded.
The officers then continued their struggle with the machine and only stop the exercise at around 19:00 hours after load-shedding.
Shonga and his team then informed the lawyers that the machine, which had been pulled half way out of the garage, would be left covered as they could not see in the dark.
“What is happening here? This equipment cannot be left in the open. It cannot spend a night outside in this weather and as you can see, the rain is about to start,” argued Kateka.
“We advised you, Mr Shonga, that this machine is highly sensitive. The machine was disabled last week after important components were removed and taken and police officers have been manning these premises all this long. You are an officer of the law and honestly, why can’t you advise the State that this machine cannot be moved because of its weight? We shall not allow you to leave the machine outside; first find ways of taking it back for safety.”
The officers panicked as they pushed the machine back into the garage.
In an interview shortly after Shonga and his team left, Kateka said: “We have tried to engage the police, last week they came and did the search. This is the equipment and they have insisted on moving the equipment from this property. On Saturday [one before last], they removed some components of the printing machine which effectively disabled it and they left policemen here and they have come back to attempt to remove it…and we have advised that the actions are going to damage the property and our client reserves the right to sue the State to claim for whatever damages they will cause him.”