‘We are suffering at the hands of police in Chililabombwe’
REF: GOVERNMENT UNLEASHES POLICE BRUTALITY ON UNARMED AND HUNGRY PEOPLE IN CHILILABOMBWE
Kindly allow me space in your respectable paper to expose the police brutality on innocent civilians here in Chililabombwe under the guise of controlling smuggling. What is happening in Chililabombwe has not been seen in many years only comparable to the infamous 1980s of the Kaunda regime which killed a lot of people here in Chililabombwe over the same issue of controlling smuggling.
The issues that I am talking about are;
- Traders in Lubengele area are being assaulted and beaten with impunity by police simply for selling mealie meal above kr 60 when they have bought the same commodity from wholesalers at kr65. One trader was even locked up for talking back to the police.
- Taxi drivers who pirate between kasumbalesa and Chililabombwe are being beaten and detained just for carrying passangers who have bought one or two bags of mealie meal for consumption to the Kasumbalesa area.
- Ordinary citizens who live at the border area are victims. Kasumbalesa border area has over 500 people and these people are not even allowed to transport the staple food. The police have stopped trading in any form of mealie meal at the border and this has pushed the price to above kr 90. And any trader who has the commodity is even followed to his or her house and mealie meal confisticated from the house and the owner beaten and taken to the police station! There is total disregard for human rights and the rule of law.
We know the fact that with the mismanagement of the agriculture input support program by the Government and the senseless export of maize to the neighbouring countries by the FRA, there will be hunger in this country. And a prudent use of whatever little grain we have is necessary, but this should not be at the expense of the ordinary Zambians at the border town who have lived and traded in peace for a long time now.
In 1991, the MMD government under the late president FTJ Chiluba, (to which our current president was part of) liberalised the grain marketing and never again was the trading in Mealie meal and maize criminalised at the border area.
Trading with the Congo in grain and other agricultural products will never end especially that Kasumbalesa Town in Congo and its surrounding arrears has over 500,000 people and Lubumbashi city which is less than 100 km from the border has over 10 million people. And any controls like what has happened now has pushed the prices to very unrealistic levels. Currently a 25kg bag of mealie meal is ranging between kr100 and kr150. On the congo side it is between kr 150 to kr 200. These unrealistic prices have created uncrupulous trading by people from all over the copperbelt. The biggest smugglers are not the two bags traders, but the truck and trailers who are ferrying thousands of bags to the border.
Please help us so that there is no bloodshed again in Chililabombwe. Currently, our taxi business is suffering, people at Kasumbalesa have no food in their homes and traders are living in fear. The DCs Office and the local leadership are quiet and watching their citizens being brutalised because they are party cadres. But we all voted and when the PF and Sata won, we celebrated with a new hope that we will now move forward further than to where MMD had left us; not going back a century again. Please your reporters should come to Chililabombwe and move around especially in the night then you will see what I am talking about. I know that this report cannot be publicised by the post or any other Government controlled newspaper.