Changala weeps over power abuses

Civil Rights activist Brebner Changala yesterday broke down when he narrated how he was mistreated by security wings that raided his house,  humiliated him and his family in the pretext of searching for drugs.

Mr Changala  said he had never in his life dealt in drugs.

This was when he made submissions to the Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission which  was sitting in Lusaka’s Kabwata public hall.

Mr Changala recounted his ordeal at the hands of State security agencies which included the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

He said the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has been turned into a terrorist organisation to settle political scores and persecute perceived political opponents.

“The DEC is now a State sponsored terrorist organization against the people of Zambia. I am a victim of the DEC police and Office of the President Officers,” he said before he broke down.

The Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission is chaired by Justice Frederick Chomba.

He said DEC, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), police and intelligent officers should stop night raids against suspects because they were inconveniencing. Mr Changala accused them of arresting people on unbailable offences and after detaining and remanding the accused for long periods without proper evidence they enter nolle prosequi which cannot be questioned by anyone. Mr Changala said raiding of people’s houses is psychological warfare and that it was meant to disgrace suspects.

“That is barbaric and against decency, human rights and respect for individuals. Just because I don’t agree with the State I should not expect the State to harass me in any form or manner. They must wait for dawn, decency demands that we must meet each other in the day not at night,” he said.

But Commission chairperson Justice Chomba said security officers conducted raids at night because of security risks they might face during the day. Mr Changala also submitted that the powers of the DPP should be reduced as office holders most times abused their powers to serve the interest of the State.

“I want the power of the DPP to be revisited, he is too strong and he is a political appointee. Many times he has abused his nolle prosequi to serve his interest and many times the interest of the state. The court will tell you that we don’t query the DPP, he has got power to do what he does. God forbid,” he said. The civil rights activist said he was a victim of five nolle prosequi since 2001 which he said was not safe for any citizen as he does not know whether he would be re-arrested. Mr Changala said nolle prosequi should have a time frame not indefinitely.He suggested that powers of all institutional holders should be reduced so that all the people are equal before the law. And Mr Changala said the period of detention must be revisited and should not be left at the mercy of the prosecutor.“There must a time frame,” Mr Changala said.

He also recommended that treason, drug trafficking and other unbailable cases should be made bailable.Mr Changala said other countries in Africa like Zimbabwe and South Africa have made unbailable cases bailable.

“It has happened in South Africa and it has happened in Zimbabwe. Morgan Tsvangirai had treason case against the State for trying to over throw Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He was going to court from home,” he said. The Legal and Justice Sector Reform commission is receiving submission on how to better the administration of the justice system in Zambia.