Two top police officers who were retired in national interest on February 16 following the violence which erupted in Sesheke in Western Province during a by-election have commenced legal action against the State in the Lusaka High Court.
Shapa Wakung’uma and Fleming Chilongo who were serving as senior Superintendents in-charge of Sesheke District in Western Province, are challenging the decision of the State to retire them in national interest and have sued the Attorney General Likando Kalaluka in this case.
According to their affidavit in support of Ex-parte Summons for leave to apply for Judicial review pursuant to the provisions of Order 53 of the rules of the Supreme Court, Wakunguma and Chilongo of House Number B14 Chelstone Police Camp and F 22 Sikanze Police camp in Lusaka respectively want the Court to grant them leave to commence Judicial Review proceedings as against the respondent.
The duo also want the court Court to exercise its discretion in granting such leave and that the said leave act as a stay of the decision to retire them in national and/or public interest.
“We believe, as advised by lawyer Christopher Mundia, this is a fit and proper case for the Court to exercise its discretion in granting such leave and the said leave act as a stay of the decision to retire us in national and/or public interest,” they stated.
The applicants further believe that no prejudice would be occasioned to the Respondent by such order granting the Applicants Leave for Judicial Review and that conversely, the interest of justice would be served.
Wakunguma served as Commander of sector five respectively during the
the Sesheke Parliamentary by-election held on February 12, 2019 as per an operational order issued by the Provincial Commanding officer while Chilongo served in his capacity as Deputy Commander in respect of sector one.
They have submitted that despite the first Applicant’s designation as commander, he did not assume command of the said sector as his deputy commander was given operational command of the area with full communication authority.
Wakunguma has further submitted that in respect of the first Deponent, on February 12 and while driving to Sesheke Police Station, he was flagged down by the Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme who was in the company of the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Western Province, a Mr Bukali.
He adds that he was requested by Chiteme and Bukali to go to the scene of an incident of alleged Police brutality involving alleged Patriotic Front cadres at a known location called Council Guest House.
“As I proceeded to the said Council Guest House, I found a number of individuals laying on the ground having being severely assaulted while tear gas canisters had been discharged in the said location. I personally ordered the officers on site to immediately stop assaulting the suspected Patriotic Front cadres as the suspected assailants were individuals. I personally identified as being from the Kamfinsa Police Training College having served as the Operation’s officer at Kamfinsa,” he stated.
He stated that he proceeded to inform one of the commanders in charge of the said Police officers, Chief Inspector Lifasi, and later went on to provide transport to the alleged victims who were given medical reports at his instance at the Sesheke Police Station in order for them to seek medical treatment and to make criminal complaints against their alleged assailants.
Wakunguma stated that following the said incident, a meeting was held at which senior members of the PF in the district demanded to know why their cadres were assaulted by Police Officers.
In addition, the said meeting was attended by the Minister of Home Affairs, Steven Kampyongo, his Counterpart Minister of National Planning Chiteme, the Provincial Commissioner of Police for Western Province, and several senior officers in the Province.
Wakunguma has further stated that Police officers who were present at the scene of the alleged assault explained the circumstances leading to the use of force against the alleged PF cadres, explaining that they had been confronted by armed cadres at the Sesheke Police Station.
” I came to learn of a statement attributed to the Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja stating clearly that all officers who took part in the assault of cadres would be dismissed from the Police Service,” he stated.
Wakunguma said later, the Police Commission chairperson Peter Chingaipe arrived in Sesheke on a fact finding mission in order to ascertain what had transpired on February 12.
He states that he and Chilongo were not privy to the discussion at the said meeting that was held on the material day but instructions from the Provincial Commissioner of Police, a Mr Lungu, were allegedly issued to the effect that an identification parade was to be held in which some Patriotic Front cadres would be made available to identify the officers who were involved in the acts of assaulting them.
The next day, Police officers were assembled at 08:00 hours in the morning for the commencement of the identification parade but the exercise was later abandoned without any reasons advanced by their superiors.
And Chilongo has submitted that he was deployed at Imusho ward from January 11 to February 13 in order to maintain law and order in the area, approximately 250 Kilometers from Sesheke District and the scene of the alleged assault of PF cadres.
He contends that the said Imusho ward was designated under Sector One in accordance with the operations order.
Chilongo has submitted that on February 16 , social media reports began to circulate that he and Wakunguma had been retired from the Police Service in National Interest.
” I received a message on the same day stating very clearly that all the Applicants herein had been retired in National Interest and I later received another Zambia Police Service message stating that I had, in fact, been retired in Public Interest, and in respect of the 1st Deponent, I picked up a letter dated February 18 and March 8 from the Deputy Provincial Commissioner of Police informing me of my retirement in Public Interest written under the hand of the Senior Executive Officer of the Inspector General of Police,” he stated.
He has submitted that at no time had he personally been questioned in respect of any alleged misconduct relating to the Sesheke by-election by any superior officer of the Zambia Police Service.
“In equal measure, none of the Applicants herein have ever been charged with any offence or alleged misconduct relating to the Sesheke by-election and at no point in time have any of the Applicants herein been asked to exculpate themselves in relation to the said by election and or related incidences arising out of the said by election,” Chilongo stated.
He stated that the said retirement in National and/or Public Interest had come with a sense of shock to the Applicants “as at no point in time have we misconducted ourselves in any way or manner as Police Officers”.