Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo this afternoon delivered a ministerial statement to parliament where he said over 370 households on the Copperbelt Province had reportedly been gassed, affecting over 1,900 people.
The Minister said this happened between January 22, 2020 and February 14, 2020, adding that it was regrettable that such occurrences had continued in selected parts of the country.
He told Parliament that on the Copperbelt, one person who responded to a distress call from a neighbour died from suspected gassing whilst the rest received medical attention and have since been discharged from various hospitals and health centres.
“In North Western Province, 30 houses were suspected to have been gassed with poisonous chemical substances and 162 victims were affected. 16 suspects have since been arrested, charged and are yet to appear in the courts of law. Mr Speaker, Lusaka and Northern Provinces have also recorded some incidences of suspected gassing similar to those on the Copperbelt. However, much of the information in circulation, especially on Social media, is not factual and cannot be backed by medical evidence. These false alarms have created insecurity leading to riots and instant mob justice. In Chazanga and Matero Townships between 15th February and 16th February, 2020, 11 cases of suspected gassing have been confirmed while five have been found to be false alarms in which four people have been killed. A private vehicle was also damaged in the process. One person has since been arrested for the murder of an innocent citizen suspected of being a ritual killer. 50 people were arrested for idle and disorderly conduct. These people were found with offensive weapons and have been moving around communities under the pretext of patrolling but ending up harassing innocent people. Further Mr. Speaker, on 17th February, 2020, a report was received by the Zambia Police Service of suspected gassing that occurred at Aurthur Wina school in Lusaka district. A couple of children were taken to Chilenje Hospital for screening and observation, the results at the hospital revealed that most of the children, except one who had signs of asthma, were found to be okay,” Mr. Kampyongo said.
He said as a result of the riots, police infrastructure was destroyed.
“Some of the properties damaged include Ndeke and Luangwa Police Posts in Kitwe, Pwalu on Mumbwa road and Kanyama West Police Post. A Toyota Land Cruiser belonging to Chilenje Police Station was also damaged. In North Western Province, Kakaindu Police Post was also damaged. Mr. Speaker, another interesting report was received from MTN Headquarters where there was a report of attempted gassing. But investigations revealed that some people wanted to burn the building with a view to destroying financial records over a fraud case. Three suspects, among them a security guard and two MTN employees, were arrested and appearing before the courts of law,” Mr. Kampyongo said.
He said to address widespread terror and fear that has engulfed the country, the government has undertaken a number of measures aimed at restoring security and public order in the country, among them the deployment of soldiers in some residential areas of Lusaka.
“More officers have been deployed in the affected areas to ensure that the acts of disorderliness do not continue. Foot and motorised operations by the Security and Defense forces have also been enhanced to ensure that the perpetrators are made to face the law,” he said.
Copyright © 2020 ZR.