Three of the Police officers deployed to maintain law and order were injured in the Choma resulting in the arrest of 21 unruly UPND cadres who were awaiting the arrival of their leader Hakainde Hichilema, Deputy Inspector General of police (DIG) Eugene Sibote disclosed yesterday.
“The UPND cadres who had gathered along the main road in anticipation to receive their Mr Hichilema, blocked traffic , climbed on moving trucks and started throwing stones at passing motor vehicles which resulted in three of them including a Police Landcruser ZP 2312B being damaged,” he said.
Mr. Sibote who was speaking when he addressed members of the press at police force headquarters yesterday disclosed that a Toyota Corolla Registration No.AJB 4809 which was being used by three cadres to cause commotion had also been impounded.
“In trying to restore order, three police officers sustained injuries after being stoned by the rioters. Arising from the unruly and riotous behaviour, police used tear gas to disperse the cadres,” Mr. Sibote said.
He said in trying to restore order and peace, police used tear gas canisters to disperse the cadres.
Mr Sibote condemned the conduct of the UPND cadres and warned that the Police would not condone any acts of violence.
“It is unfortunate that the UPND leadership could not restrain their cadres even after having assured the Police Command that they would always abide by the provisions of the Public Order Act,” he said.
But UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma has accused Police of tear gassing innocent party members who lined up along the Choma-Lusaka Road to welcome Mr Hichilema.
Mr Kakoma said in a separate interview that the 21 UPND members arrested had allegedly not committed any crime and that police should set them free.
“The fracas was ensued after police started firing teargas but our party members were simply lining up to welcome our party leader, “he said.
Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu has condemned the violence in Choma saying this was the reason why the country needed the Public Order Act to govern people’s behaviour.
He said there would be chaos in the country in the absence of the Public Order Act.
President Lungu said that people should be free to belong to any political party of their choice because Zambia is a democratic country.
He was speaking in an interview with journalists at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport upon arrival from his tour of Eastern Province.