PF government thugs on Friday April 11, 2014 attacked Kabwe based Freelance journalist Wilson Pondamali, robbed him of his equipment and damaged his other camera after he resisted being abducted. Pondamali was at the Kabwe civic centre to cover the installation of the new Mayor of Kabwe Richard Bango.
Soon after Bango was installed and ushered into office around 16:00hrs , four thugs appeared and forcibly pulled Pondamali in an effort to abduct him to an unknown place but he put up some resistance along the stairs as some councillors watched hopelessly.
Deputy Mayor MacDonald Mwamba attempted to rescue him but retreated after they threatened to beat him. In the process the thugs managed to rob the journalist of his media equipment and damaged his other camera which was strapped around the neck.
Kabwe municipal council policemen apprehended three thugs who were handed to state policemen while the fourth one quickly ran away with the journalist’s equipment.
The three were briefly detained at Kabwe central but released during the night at the instructions of government officials . Pondamali was taken to Kabwe General hospital where an X ray revealed that he sustained an injury on right rib.
The three cadres are Lusaka based and were hosted in Kabwe by PF Bwacha constituency chairman Saidi Chibwana, a member of the PF militia who is also at the centre of the calls to expel the party’s two MPs in the district.
Saidi who hails from Tanzania but claims to be Zambian Lala by tribe is a well known ritual murderer especially in Ngungu where his businesses are. A separate day for him will come so that people know this man with four wives.
Police insiders revealed that central province minister Obvious Mwaliteta and Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba from Lusaka ordered the release of the thugs who were transported using Saidi Chibwana’s unregistered bus the same night after attending a cocktail party at the civic centre.
And speaking in an interview, Pondamali who is also a board member of the Media institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia said he was shocked that cadres from the ruling party coul behave in that manner in full view of the public. He has thanked the council policemen and the state policemen who managed to apprehend his attackers and vowed to continue working professionally.
“I am not shaken but surprised by these cadres’ action, I am determined to see to it that justice is done to them so as to serve as a deterrent to others especially as Zambia heads into a volatile campaign in 2016, we shall need journalists who will be focused and courageous. I want to thank the alert state and council policemen who worked professionally and saved me,” Pondamali said from the government hospital where he was admitted and being treated.
The items stolen include a laptop, canon digital camera, voice recorder, rechargeable batteries, Internet modem, network cables, registration card and business cards and some other personal properties. The total value of the stolen and damaged items is over K15,000.
The government wants Wilson Pondamali dead because they believe he is one of the journalists running Zambian Watchdog.
On 16 July 2013 police arrested Pondamali and charged him with possession of military pamphlets, stealing a library novel.
While he was granted bail, Zambian police held him in Mpima Remand Prison in Kabwe, claiming that he had attempted to escape from lawful custody.
Then they gave him a charge of ‘causing damage to government property – they claimed Mr Pondamali has damaged a police car door handle.
On 22 July, he collapsed in his police cell and was admitted to hospital where he was treated for pneumonia while under tight police custody, handcuffed to his hospital bed. He remained in that state for three weeks.
Two other journalists, Thomas Zyambo and Clayson Hamasaka, were arrested on 9 July 2013 on similar suspicions. Mr Zyambo was charged with sedition Mr Hamasaka was charged with possession of pornography.