Lusaka Province commanding officer Nelson Phiri commandeered an operation last Thursday to bar would be congregants at the Cathedral of Holy Cross planning to hold thanks giving prayers for the release of UPND president Hakainde Hichilema.
Commisioner Phiri unashamedly said that his officers were applying the requirements of the Public Order Act in stopping the prayers.
The scene of armed police officers turning away congregants made for a very comical scene if not for its seriousness.
While the police were all over town imagining their political handlers would be most pleased with them, they were rudely shocked that the one person they thought would come to their defence lambasted them. Minister of Religious Affairs and National Guidance Godfridah Sumaili said the police were out of order.
No apology was forthcoming from the police and State House drove the final nail in the police coffin by blasting the police branding them unprofessional. Now the police were left eating humble pie for their high handedness. Considering the number of cases that they have bungled with their arrest and then investigate style, they should deeply reflect on their conduct.
Look at how embarrassingly the Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja had to retreat in the Chilufya Tayali defamation case. Did not Obvious Mwaliteta and his colleagues endure one year behind bars only for the police to have given conflicting statements laced with false testimony. We cannot even begin to talk about other cases where the name of the President has been dragged in the mud. What of the Chawama reserve police officer Peter Habasimbi who had been dragged to court on the strength of false another case of confused testimony?
Sometimes it is not the politicians pushing the police to flout the law very law they are supposed to be upholding but they are so bent on impressing on politicians that they mess up. The police should just commit to acting professionally and spare the dignity of their profession. Otherwise there is no need for properly trained officers to be pandering to the whims of politicians. Police should just begin to learn that only being professional will earn them the respect of the citizenry.