THE number of ritual murder suspects who have been arrested has risen to 12 from the previous 11 as investigations into the gruesome ritual killings intensify, Home Affairs Minister Davis Mwila has disclosed.
Mr Mwila has reassured the nation and foreign nationals that Zambia would remain a peaceful and tolerant country and that the safety of foreigners seeking refuge in Zambia was guaranteed.
Mr Mwila said calm has returned to townships that were rocked by riots and looting of shops belonging to foreign nationals following a spate of ritual killings in Zingalume.
Mr Mwila, said the 556 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) refugees nationals who gathered at St Ignatius Catholic Church seeking refuge had been sent to Maheba and Mayukwayukwa resettlements from where they had originally come.
He said this when DRC ambassador to Zambia Mayele Bernardin called on him at his office yesterday.
“Twelve suspected ritual murderers have been arrested and police are making steady progress.
Calm has returned to townships were looting took place. Police have continued to patrol,” Mr Mwila said.
Mr Mwila explained that riots and looting that rocked some selected townships in Lusaka were as a result of speculation and rumour mongering that some foreigners were allegedly involved in ritual killings.
He said foreign national were free and welcome in Zambia and that their businesses were safe but that such businesses should be conducted within the law.
“Zambia and Congo are sisterly nations and I wish to assure you that no foreigner was killed. It is also wrong to insinuate that the attacks were xenophobic and so your lives in Zambia are secure and we are going to have peaceful elections,” Mr Mwila said.
And Mr Bernardin said the people of Democratic Republic of Congo were peaceful and would never want to engange in inhuman and barbaric activities such as ritual killings.
Mr Bernardin said he was seeking permission from Government to visit the Congolese refugees to ascertain if they were national from the DRC.
“I have come here to get permission to visit the Congolese to ascertain if indeed they are our people. Congolese do not shed blood but enjoy playing their music and dancing and not committing heinous crimes such as ritual killings,” Mr Bernardin said.
Mr Bernardin said he concerned with some media reports because some of the statements about what had happened did not reflect the true situation and was on a fact-finding mission to establish the truth.
“My Government has tasked me to offer condolences and sympathy over ritual killings. The Congolese and Zambians are one people and it is unimaginable that they can turn against each other,” Mr Bernardin said. Meanwhile, police spokesperson Charity Munganga Chanda said the police were still investigating another ritual killing which occurred in Mansa on Friday to establish whether it was related to the ritual murders which happened in Lusaka.