RESIDENTS of Woodlands, Chilenje, Chalala and Nyumba Yanga suburbs in Lusaka sleep with one eye and ear open because of a gang of ruthless thieves attacking people and robbing them of their property; sometimes storming homes and mugging homegoers as early as 19 hours.
According to sources who spoke to the Daily Nation, desperately appealing for police protection, the knife-wielding gang numbering between 10 and 15 is reportedly ‘‘extremely brutal and ruthless’’.
In some of the heavily populated neighbourhoods of George, Mandevu and others a criminal gang calling itself ‘’Boko Alamu’’ is on the prowl – beating up innocent people, injuring some seriously, and are reportedly unchallenged in their hideous crimes and orgies of destruction.
We are therefore comforted by Lusaka police chief Nelson Phiri who has appealed to Lusaka residents not to panic, assuring them that the police ‘‘ are in control’’ and have gone out in full force and have increased patrols in these affected areas to ensure security of life and safety of property.
According to the Zambia 2015 Crime and Safety report, violent crime was the second highest crime statistic in the country, overtaken only by corruption and bribery. These are horrifying figures considering our reputation as a peace-loving nation.
And the PwC Global Economic Crime Survey reported this week that white collar crime, better known as economic crimes, increased last year by a staggering 26 percent. This was a 61 percent increase compared to 35 percent hike in such crimes in 2014.
To someone reading these reports in the diaspora, she or he may be forgiven for believing that Zambians are under siege from criminals. When they add thefts, burglaries, bank heists, carjackings and daylight muggings the situation may not be far from the truth.
To make matters worse, we now have a new crime called political violence. This is where cadres of a political party dare the police and take to the streets, halting traffic at peak hour, harassing innocent people, attacking opponents or simply taking over a market or bus station and collecting fees in defiance of any authority.
As the country moves closer to the August 11 general election, Zambians are holding their breath, uncertain of the future.
We appeal to the Police Command to react to the present security situation the way the Lusaka police chief has done. It calls for extraordinary measures to calm the nerves of ordinary Zambians who are fearful of the immediate future.
These criminal gangs and their sponsors, political or otherwise, must be smashed and their leaders arrested and prosecuted. Only the other day we carried a letter from a reader who was alerting the police to the fact that the ring leader of Boko Alamu was in Matero police cells and that the Police Command must transfer him to Lusaka Central to ensure he did not elude them again. We only hope this timely patriotic gesture was followed up and executed.
We are also encouraged to know that the Zambia Police Service is being beefed up in resources and manpower and new equipment is already in the country to enable them undertake the mammoth task of policing the tripartite elections. Home Affairs minister Davis Mwila is a no-nonsense advocate of law and order. We hope the police can emulate his stance and crack down on all forms of criminal activity and political defiance.
Only then can ordinary Zambians breathe a sigh of relief and say ‘twapusuka’’.