Police in the early hours of Tuesday detained a Daily Nation circulations officer over a story headline the newspaper carried in which UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema disputed claims that he was rescued by the police when PF cadres attacked him at SUN FM radio station in Ndola.
Mr Joe Nkumba together with his colleague, Mathias Kalimoto were picked up by police at Lusaka’s Main Post Office and were detained at the Central police over a story headline ‘Police are lying’.
Narrating the ordeal, Mr Nkumba said while he was placing posters for the story around 03:40 hours, he was approached by an armed police officer who immediately told him that the headline of the story was going to tarnish the image of the police if the newspaper was going to be allowed on the streets.
Mr Nkumba said the armed police officers immediately confiscated his driving licence and demanded that he (Nkumba) follow him to Lusaka Central police where he and Kalimoto were detained and made to explain why the Daily Nation was carrying a story that was going to damage the image of the police service.
He said that the police wanted to know the contents of the story but when he told them that he was not a journalist and did not author the story, the police threatened to storm the Daily Nation offices and block the newspaper from being published.
Mr Nkumba said the police also threatened that if the newspaper was going to be published, they were going to ensure that its distribution was going to be stopped because they did not want Zambians to read a story that was against the police service.
“We were putting posters for our publication around 03:40 and this police officer suddenly appeared from nowhere and demanded to know what was contained in the story that was being advertised.
He asked me to explain what it was that the police were lying about and when I told him that I was not the author of the story, he confiscated my licence and demanded that we go with him to Central police.
“We were taken to the police where we were detained. The police threatened that they were going to raid the Daily Nation offices to stop the newspaper from being published.
They also threatened that they would ensure that the newspaper if published would not be distributed,” Nkumba said.
Nkumba said his detention by the police over newspaper articles did not shake him because working for the media had become such a hazardous occupation in Zambia adding that it was not the first time he had been detained over stories.
He said after consultations with the authorities he could not identify and Daily Nation management, he was released after his particulars and that of Kalimoto were taken.
The police in a statement in a named newspaper claimed that they rescued Hichilema when in fact not as they were also victims of the savage attacks.
The police were reportedly beaten by the PF cadres and were chased from the premises of SUN FM radio station and Hichilema was aided by journalists of the radio station and was forced to leave Insurance House building through the roof.