United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres on Thursday turned Woodlands Police Station into a battle ground and severely injured a PF police officer during the arrest of their leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Hichilema was arrested for allegedly uttering a defamatory statement against dictator Michael Sata during a tour of Kalikiliki Market on Sunday.
The angry supporters, that accompanied Hichilema, allegedly hit a police officer with a brick in the head.
He sustained a deep cut and bled profusely as the opposition leader pleaded with his supporters to be peaceful. Hichilema was at pains to restrain his supporters from beating up the PF police.
But some cadres at the scene accused Police spokesperson, Ms. Kanjela of being the one who threw the brick at the fellow police officer with a view to implicate them.
The cadres said they are ready to testify and provide video evidence showing Ms. Kanjela throwing a brick at the officer who was injured in the scuffle.
MMD leader Nevers Mumba who is also a victim of the PF police was with Hichilema all the way.
He condemned the arrest of Hichilema describing it as ridiculous and criminal.
Mr. Hichilema is due to appear in court again next Tuesday, 22nd January 2013.
Dr Mumba, who himself is facing flimsy charges, said the PF action to continue arresting opposition political party leaders is not only ridiculous but criminal.
“This is ridiculous and it is criminal not from us but from those who wish to take away our rights and liberties but I can promise them that they won’t take it away,” Dr Mumba said.
Police spokesperson Elizabeth Kanjela identified the injured officer as Adam Banda who sustained a deep cut in the head and was rushed to the hospital for treatment.
Hichilema was arrested for allegedly defaming Sata, contrary to Section 66 of the redundant Penal Code, of Zambia and was later released on a KR5,000 bond with two working sureties.
There was commotion at the Central Police Station when the cadres besieged the station as PF police officers struglled to keep them at bay, while they hurled invectives at the police who are now referred as the armed wing of the ruling party.
During his Kalikiliki Market tour, Hichilema is believed to have accused President Sata of shielding Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba in the corruption case before the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
According to Ms Kanjela, Police arrested and charged Mr Hichilema for defamation.
“Yes I can confirm that we have arrested and charged Mr Hichilema. This is in connection with the words he made on January 13, this year, where he accused the President of defending Mr Kabimba at ACC, we believe the words were defamatory, he will appear in court this afternoon (yesterday),” Ms Kanjela said.
Ms Kanjela condemned the unruly behaviour of the cadres and said police had launched investigations into the assault of Mr Banda.
The opposition leader was blocked by his cadres upon arrival from entering the station for more than 30 minutes as they struggled with the police.
“I refuse to go upstairs to be interrogated from there because you want to teargas me and other people, this is how you want to kill innocent people,” Mr Hichilema said while at the reception.
Police had to find an alternative office to conduct the interviews after the opposition leader claimed that he feared officers would tear-gas him.
After the interview, he was taken to Woodlands Police Station for the formal arrest, his supporters fearing for the life of their leader followed.
Later in the afternoon, Mr Hichilema appeared at the magistrate’s court with his lawyers led by Sakwiba Sikota. He did not take plea but defence lawyers conferred with chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda.
Addressing journalists at the court, Mr Sikota said his client could not take plea because consultations were still going on with the Director of Public Prosecutions. The matter would come up for plea on Tuesday next week.
The decision by UPND supporters to defend their leader is a result of failure by the police to defend citizens and instead follow orders by dictator Michael Sata to arrest opposition leaders.
Some of the UPND cadres even attempted to disconnect live electricity to the police station and free other people who are remanded in the cells, a situation that scared the police.
Shops such as Pick n Pay at Woodlands were temporarily closed as cadres threatened to cause more havoc if their leader was reminded in police custody.
Such violence is likely to increase as the PF regime tries to turn back the country into a one party state.