DAILY Nation reporter, Wallen Simwaka, was yesterday arrested and placed in the cells by Kabwata police following a fracas as police clashed with journalists when UPND president Hakainde Hichilema arrived at Kabwata police station where he had been summoned.
Mr Simwaka was first denied entry into the police station despite arriving at 09:30 hours and was ordered to wait for Mr Hichilema about 50 meters away near Kabwata market while other journalists had been allowed to enter the premises.
The police battalion that had sealed off Kabwata police station was menacingly rough in dealing with journalists and Mr Simwaka who was at the station was manhandled and threatened with severe beating if he was going to go past the cordon of police officers.
Journalists from Muvi TV and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation were also blocked from entering the premises but Mr Simwaka, who demanded to know why the police were chasing reporters, was harassed and roughed up for allegedly abusing the officers.
The over-zealous officers accused Mr Simwaka of demeaning the police officers for refusing to be intimidated and reminding the officers that they were being rude to ask a reporter to leave the scene of a story.
Mr Simwaka was dragged to the police reception where he was ordered to take off his shoes and belt because he had been arrested and would therefore be detained for reminding the police that he was on duty and could not be expelled from the scene of the story.
His identity and press cards did not help him as the police were determined to have him detained for an offence they called “conduct” and could not listen to his explanation that it was wrong for the police to deny him access to where other journalists were gathered waiting for Mr Hichilema.
The excited police officers kept on taunting Mr Simwaka to the extent that he could not understand what the offence of conduct was but when challenged which part of the Penal Code they were using to detain him, the officers just shouted in unison…no conduct chabe iwe”.
One female police officer then shouted…”Bwana, saiziba conduct uyu” at which point Mr Simwaka was led to the cells where he was welcomed by the detainees who immediately wanted him to see how dirty the toilet was because the cell has had no water for a long time.
And after learning that the new entrant into the cell was a journalist, the inmates one at a time started complaining about the police being notoriously corrupt because most of them had been detained without being charged.
Mr Simwaka was released after more than 30 minutes in the cell and after having calmly interacted with the detainees who gave him a lowdown of the problems they were facing and how the police were abusing them for not having money to be bonded.
United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema had been summoned for allegedly breaching the Public Order Act.