FEAR has gripped Lusaka residents, especially in townships where there have been violent crimes, following allegations that the police recruits deployed are harassing and beating up members of the public found in bars or walking home after 20:00 hours.
But Police spokesperson Charity Munganga Chanda refuted the accusations of police brutality, saying no such complaint of harassment of residents by the police had been received.
Some Lusaka residents complained to the Daily Nation that the Police recruits who are deployed as early as 20:00 hours in townships were harassing members of the public found patronizing drinking places.
The residents claim that the police recruits were using the so-called offence of loitering, popularly known as ‘‘shishita’’ to carry out their illegal duties.
They suggested that the police recruits should escort suspects to their homes and only act when they fail to show them where they lived.
“It is terrible that we have to be subjected to torture. The duty of the police is to keep law and order instead of torturing suspects. There is no curfew in the country. And bars are allowed to operate up to 22:00 hrs while night clubs overnight. We do not know why, the police are arresting or beating us,” one of the victims in Lusaka’s Matero complained.
Mrs. Chanda said the police were cautious and doing their job professionally.
She clarified that the police were only apprehending people suspected of committing offences.
“Actually we have been conducting patrols from 18:00 hrs until 06:00 hrs in the morning and we have never received any complaint of anyone who has been harassed.
“It’s not that we are stopping people from moving around; the people that we are actually apprehending are those that are suspected of committing offences,” she said.
Mrs. Chanda appealed to residents to report any police officer who might try to harass them.
“If anyone has been harassed by any police officer the best way is to report to us. But as far as I am concerned no such complaint has been received,” Mrs. Chanda said.
But a resident of Lusaka’s Garden compound who spoke on condition of anonymity said the police recruits were on the loose, terrorizing residents.
He claimed that the recruits were brutally beating up residents found walking as early as 21.50 hours.