South Province police commissioner Bonny Kapeso has announced what he calls punitive measures against the people of Batoka after they burnt down a police post.
An emotional Kapeso says he has ordered all police officers in Batoka to leave and that no Batoka resident will be allowed to report any crime in Choma, as a way of punishing the arsonists.
According to a police report, Batoka residents yesterday made a citizen’s arrest on a knife wielding Lusaka man, Ketious Kabwe, suspected to be a ritual killer.
The officer-in-charge at Batoka police then took over the suspect and transferred him to Pemba, where he was detained overnight, but residents mobilised under the cover of night to protest against officers whom they accused of trying to cover up a crime.
The residents went further to burn down the police post, thereby awakening Kapeso’s sleeping wrath.
Appearing on Byta FM’s Chuundu Chaitwa programme today, Kapeso said he was withdrawing his officers from Batoka because the environment was not conducive.
“Why burn a police structure which is meant for their services? What do you expect us to do? When I reported this to the Inspector General of Police Mr Kakoma Kanganja, he was so cross, I think he was more annoyed than I was. I failed to understand the rationale behind the people’s decision to burn their own police structure.
Now, the police high command, we have decided that immediately, we are pulling out our officers. As I speak now, immediately we are arranging transport to go and pick up our officers because we cannot keep officers in an insecure environment, there is no safety for them,” Kapeso said.
“I need to protect my officers, I am there to protect my officers, I would not guarantee that because people were annoyed, I will find my officers burnt while they were sleeping. I am pulling out my officers and anyone who will come from Batoka to Choma, you will not report your matters because it is not your boundary, they will be reporting to Pemba until they build their own police post they are not going to have police officers with immediate effect and these views are echoed by my Inspector General of Police. We need to be harsh, people must know that we are not here for joking. I am not here to joke. If people do not respect my officers why should I respect them? It is a two-way traffic.”
When programme host Joe Pandwe observed that Kapeso was being emotional, Kapeso said; “I become emotional when people break the law at will. Just tell me, what is the connection between an officer, protecting a person, his rights and life, and people think that we have misbehaved, that we have made a wrong and they burn down, suppose we had guns? If guns were kept there? What would have happened?”
“There will be no police presence in Batoka until the community create their own police post where we shall take the officers. I will enforce the law in a conducive atmosphere. Officers must be in a shelter, they must have an office, they must have chairs, they must have where to put their dockets and ammunition and all those facilities. But they have been burnt. So we must go and plead with the people that ‘you have burnt our structures, we want to come and continue working for you’? No no no, people must get the message that we are here for business. Government decided that in every area where people are growing, there must be police presence but if people do not value police officers, if people do not value the services that police are delivering and they continue burning our structures, it is like they burn my office, they have burnt my office, where do I seat? I will go until they build another office for me.”