Patriotic Front cadres yesterday assaulted a crippled man that went to attend an opposition United Party for National Development rally in Kabwata and stole his crutches to stop him from attending the meeting.
During the weekend’s opposition rally in Kabwata by the UPND, which was the first public demonstration allowed by the government in several months, violent youth cadres from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) allegedly attacked a disabled UPND member, kicking away his crutches to prevent him from attending the meeting.”
There were clashes between the rival cadres while police helplessly watched without intervening and claimed to have been overpowered.
Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani who visited the venue for the rally briefly met with UPND leaders and strongly advised them to call off the rally because of the anticipated violence but her request was turned down.
The PF cadres, organised by Lusaka Province chairman Geoffrey Chumbwe and David Silubanji, had formed a barricade at a road that led to Kabwata Basic School football pitch while armed police officers stood in the middle with UPND cadres on the other side.
One of the people attending the rally was seen on clutches but as he approach Kabwata Basic School, he was swept to the ground, beat and his clutches taken away. The helpless man was bleeding as UPND well-wishers came to whisk him away to what was a safe area. He was later taken to the hospital.
Police failed to restrain the charging cadres as they surged to another group of UPND members clashing in their presence.
The PF cadres, who were armed with stones and chains, hit several UPND cadres who bled profusely and were rushed to the hospital.
After the attack, the UPND cadres also hit back and assaulted some PF cadres and police later apprehended some of them and took them to Kabwata Police Post for detention.
At some stage, the venue for the rally resembled a battle ground as scenes of heavily armed officers, attacking weapons and drops of human blood from injuries sustained carpeted the pitch.
Later, the situation was contained and the rally proceeded though most of the people were intimidate by the physical confrontations that preceded the meeting leaving a few to listen to opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.