Two Journalists whose houses were raided in the early hours of Tuesday have been detained by a combine team of Zambia Security wings.
Those arrested are former Evelyn College lecturer Clayson Hamasaka and former Daily Mail reporter Thomas Zyambo.
The arrests are believed to centre on suspicion that they were correspondents for the online Zambian Watchdog newspaper.
The officers who introduced themselves as officers from the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) produced a search warrant indicating they were searching for drugs, but upon entry into the houses started searching and reading through documents.
At the end the search, they got away with documents before bundling the journalists into their vehicles. And drove to an Internet Cafe from which stories were filed.
Human Rights Activist Brebner Changala who witnessed the search at Hamasaka’s house said the uncompromising officers barged into the house after brandishing the search warrant.
They refused to wait for a lawyer before commencing the search and upon entry into the house collected all cell phones from members of the family apparently preventing them from communicating to seek assistance.
They also grabbed laptops and computers.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia has expressed concerned with the unlawful confinement of Mr. Hamasaka and Mr. Zyambo.
Chapter chairperson Nalumino Nalumino said that the association was worried that the two journalists who were not criminals were picked up by Police without any charge and have been in Police confinement since then.
“The two have not even been formerly charged and still awaiting formal interrogation. We consider the raid on the two journalists’ homes and their subsequent confinement at Zambia Police Headquarters as illegal and an indication that Zambia’s human right record is deteriorating. It is worrying that the two who are not criminals were subject of an early morning Police Raid although there is no state of emergency in the country where people’s human rights can be suspended,” said Mr. Nalumino.
He said that the act of detaining the two journalists on unknown charges was total abuse of freedom and abuse of the rights of the two journalists.
“This act is also a clear abuse of the rights of the two to freedom of movement. According to the Zambian law, a person should be charged, formerly arrested and then take to court, but this was not the case for the two. This should not be happening in a democratic society. We appeal to the Police to release the two journalists without any further delay as their continued confinement is not legal.
While MISA Zambia is glad that two lawyers, Jack Mwimbu and Gilbert Phiri, are handling the issue, it has also engaged Kabesha and Company to assist the team of lawyers representing the two Journalists.
MISA Zambia is also in touch with the Law Association of Zambia over the increasing media freedom violations,” he said.
And the opposition leaders have condemned the arrest of the two journalists and have since demanded for their immediate release from custody.
Both UPND and MMD leaders demanded for an immediate release of the journalists and warned the PF government against taking advantage of the peace the country was enjoying for them to abuse the rights and freedoms of the people they were supposed to govern.
Mr. Hichilema told the Daily Nation that the PF government had gone too far in the manner they were freely abusing and violating the rights of innocent citizenry.
Mr. Hichilema said that the PF government was tirelessly working towards creating a Gestapo or Nazi type of government by intimidating; locking UP and soon will start eliminating people for no apparent reasons.
“We demand that the two journalists who are under detention by this dictatorial government be released forth with and the unfounded allegations be thrown out. We shall petition other African bodies to pay attention about how human rights were degenerating in Zambia. This government will soon start killing and eliminating people. People here will start going missing just like it used to be in UNIP,” he said.
MMD president Dr. Nevers Mumba expressed shock at the levels of intolerance by the PF government and asked President Sata to exercise principals that promotes good governance in the country.
“Why locking up journalists like common criminals? Why raiding people in the manner the police did? Who are criminals the PF cadres that beat up people in church, the PF officers who shoot at people in Kampasa or these journalists?” Zambians the baby is in your hands, what is happening today under the PF is something that we have never experienced in this country under democracy since 1991,” he said.
Dr. Mumba also demanded for the release of the two journalists unconditionally and all the charges against them if any dropped forth with.
He said that the PF government should realize that victimizing the media and other stakeholders in the governance of the country will not help them fulfill the promises they made to the people of Zambia in 2011.
The MMD leader has since appealed to Human Rights bodies to follow up the matter and inform the world about what was happening in the country.