Chief Chipepo of Gwembe district has directed his headmen to immediately effect citizen’s arrests on all men who have married underage girls.
The chief has decreed that all culprits must have their hands tied with either a rope or fibre in the absence of handcuffs before being handed over to state police within 24 hours of arrest.
The traditional ruler issued the directive at Kayuni on the shores of Lake Kariba at the launch of the Chipepo transformation centre in Gwembe District yesterday.
This was during the handover of community boreholes by the Northmead Assembly of God Church overseer, Bishop Joshua Banda.
The chief was angered after Gwembe district commissioner Alice Mwiinga reported that four girls aged 13 who were in grade 8 had been married off early by their parents.
Ms Mwiinga complained against the increased cases of early marriages involving underage girls which had continued unabated thereby defeating government’s efforts to empower the girl child with education.
But in his response, Chief Chipepo vowed to ensure all culprits involved in early marriages are arrested and handed over to police for prosecution.
He threatened to impose serious sanction against headmen who would fail to implement his directive.
“I decree that all men who have married underage age girls be arrested today. Wherever you are, consider yourselves arrested. Headmen, if you have no handcuffs, tie them with ropes or fibre and ensure they are handed over to police within 24 hours,” he said at a meeting attended by scores of village headmen.
Earlier, Dr Banda said the launch of the Chipepo Mission Transformation Centre is an effort by the church to help remedy evil practices that impede development in the area.
He said through the centre, the church would establish education and health facilities while also venturing into tourism, livestock and other agricultural related facilities for job creation for the local people.
“With education, it is possible for Chipepo to produce a president for our country, a top engineer, a world class doctor and even Zambia’s next top entrepreneur,” Dr Banda said.
He said the church was deeply concerned with the shortage of teachers at Chipepo middle basic school where the pupil-teacher ratio was one to 70.
“At the beginning of the year, there were 126 eligible candidates for grade one but only 60 were enrolled. This means the majority of eligible children were turned away due to lack of school space,” he said. Bishop Banda disclosed that the church would also establish a professional fishing company and a tourism destination as economic thrusts in the area. – ZANIS