A MEMBER of the ZANIS crew that was ambushed and abducted by suspected UPND cadres in Bweengwa has narrated how a horde of armed villagers held them hostage for more than four hours at the venue of President Edgar Lungu’s rally in Monze on Sunday.
The ZANIS crew member said barely after leaving the venue for President Edgar Lungu’s rally in Bweengwa, the spear and machete-wielding villagers suddenly appeared in large numbers and advanced towards the vehicles.
‘‘I have never been so scared in my life and we were held hostage from 18:00 hours to 21:00 hours and we were only released after there was reinforcement by the police. From the look of things, they meant to kill and we all feared for our lives. We were forced to treat and shepherded us to where we had come from. They surrounded us and started watching over us menacingly and with glee,” he said.
The ZANIS crew member said he feared for his life after their convoy was suddenly surrounded by a group of villagers wielding spears, machetes, axes, knives and catapults.
He said Government and private cars caught in the ambush were stoned and smashed by the thugs chanting UPND slogans while a police officers was seriously injured in the attack.
The civil servant said he had no doubt in his mind the villagers meant to kill them as they threw stones indiscriminately.
And the Human Rights Commission (HRC) has described as criminal and barbaric the abduction and stoning of Government officials and vehicles in Bweengwa constituency where President Lungu addressed a public rally last Sunday.
The Human Rights Commission has called on the Zambia Police Service to thoroughly, impartially and expeditiously investigate all cases of political violence and bring the culprits to book.
HRC chief of information, education and training Mweelwa Muleya said the commission was deeply concerned that politically-motivated violence was becoming systematic and that there was an imminent danger that the political situation could worsen if the violent trend was not stopped.
Mr Muleya said the commission has been investigating and documenting cases of violence such as the attack of family members of Vice-President Ingonge Wina in Nalolo, the assult and dehumanizing treatment of journalists in Vubwi, the attack of Rainbow Party leader Wynter Kabimba in Chipata and the teargasing of MMD president Nevers Mumba in Chama.
He said the commission was also investigating and documenting the invasion of the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport by suspected Patriotic Front (PF) cadres in Ndola to prevent then Democratic Front (DF) leader Miles Sampa from disembarking from a plane.
“In all these violent activities, there were reports of individuals associated with political parties involved, thereby confirming the widely held view that the on-going violence is politically motivated. It is the commission’s considered view that the growing political violence calls for a political solution.
‘‘It is high time political party leaders started talking to each other rather than talking at each other. There is also need for political party leaders to take responsibility for violence caused by their cadres by not simply condemning them, or condemning violence against their members, but by going further to help the police with investigations and bringing the culprits to book regardless of their political affiliation,” Mr Muleya said.
Mr Muleya said there was need for a high level national political meeting by political parties to address the causes of political violence so that they could agree on measures of ending the scourge.
He said there was need to create a conducive atmosphere for election campaigns and voting by all stakeholders, stating that political violence must not be allowed to deprive citizens of their fundamental right to freely express their will by voting for candidates of their choice.