Police in Lusaka yesterday violently beat up and arrested several opposition UPND cadres who attempted to demonstrate against the suspension of Supreme Court judge Philip Musonda and High Court judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna.
They had earlier denied the opposition a permit allowing them to assemble and protest at the Lusaka High Court to also press for the resignation of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito.
UPND youths assembled at the party secretariat and were addressed by senior party leaders who encouraged them to go ahead with the protest.
The protesters planned to march from the UPND secretariat located along Lagos Road in Rhodes Park to the Lusaka High Court.
However, a combined team of paramilitary police in riot gear intercepted the protesters near Addis Ababa drive.
Police blocked the road in an attempt to persuade the protesters to return to their before the armed officers unleashed their wrath on the unarmed UPND youths.
Shot buttons were used to inflict injuries on banner carrying protesters while some motorists along the busy city drive scampered for their safety.
Police rounded more than 40 of the protesters and bundled them in their vehicle.
The situation later calmed down after Lusaka Province police commissioner Charity Katanga arrived on the scene and ordered a ‘cease-fire’.
Katanga told journalists that she would not tolerate lawlessness in her division while defending the unlawful beating of unarmed protesters.
“This (beating of protesters) is not politically motivated. But I will not tolerate such lawlessness in my division. We will not allow a group of people to do anything they want because they are a political party,” Katanga said.
“This is just the beginning, if they think they can do this, they will meet us on the battle field. We did not allow them to demonstrate.”
UPND senior member Douglas Syakalima condemned police action.
“We are not going to allow President Sata to behave in this way because this is not a police state. This is nonsense of the highest order and this blood that has been shed today, somebody is going to pay for it. If the police are saying this is the beginning of the battle then the battle will begin. This is just UPND but very soon, we will mobilise and there will be mass demonstrations across the country,” he said.