“Sober up, be Professional,” Fr Chikoya urges Police

COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) General Secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya has expressed sadness over the death of Vespers Shimuzhila, a final year female student who died from police teargas suffocation in her room at the University of Zambia on Friday morning just before dawn.Facts on the ground are that University of Zambia students on Friday late in the night rioted by blocking the Great East Road for some time at the pedestrians crossing bridge.Few Police Officers later came to the scene but could not do much to contain the situation hence left the scene to mobilize for reinforcements.Realizing that the Police would come back in numbers, the students left the road side and went back into the Campus without any more riots.It was after the students had stopped rioting that the Police returned in numbers and followed them inside the Campus and started chasing those that were peacefully       walking-about on the streets within the Campus while other Officers proceeded to students’ rooms to throw teargas canisters.Fr Chikoya says what transpired resulting into the death of the student is heart-breaking and must be strongly condemned without reservations.He says in-as-much-as the Church does not support the behaviour by the students who chose to riot by blocking the Great East Road over delayed meal allowances, the Zambia Police must have been professional more especially that the Students had already ended the riots.He however says this does not mean the students, like other citizens, cannot stage peaceful demonstrations to air their grievances more especially that they have no union to represent them.He says what the Church does not support is destructive demonstrations such as damaging property and closing roads hence affecting other citizens in the process.He says nevertheless, it was the duty of the Police to ensure there was law and order in the Campus and lives were protected and not lost.Fr Chikoya says the most saddening part is the throwing of teargas in a room where there was peace and order while the other students were out to cause commotion.He says this scenario beats the understanding of many in the country because under normal circumstances a teargas is thrown where there is disorder to disperse the gathering.He says the reason behind throwing a teargas to those who had sought refuge in their rooms beats the whole purpose of Police’s presence at the Campus.The CCZ GS has since reminded the Zambia Police that they are no longer a Police Force but they are a Police Service meaning they must at all times strive to provide a Service with minimum force.He has also reminded the Zambia Police to ensure they are professional in the execution of their duties by keeping in mind that human dignity and rights are respected at all times.Fr Chikoya says both the students and the Police were wrong in the roles they played resulting into the death of Miss Shimuzhila but more blame must be heaped on the Police for failing to be professional even after the students had ended the riots.He says the Council of Churches in Zambia will follow up with the case until justice is done for the death of the innocent student which resulted from the carelessness of the Police who were supposed to protect her even more since she was already in a safe place while others were returning from rioting. Post Views: 2

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