Police’s fractured image

As Zambia heads towards the 2016 General elections, the Police service should strive to avoid actions that will ultimately damage their reputation which currently stands fractured.

A damaged image of the Police service is certainly bad for Zambia’s growing democracy.

Zambians need a professional Police service as a wing of justice.

While Zambians have lived peacefully even in the face of Police brutality, indications are that this may be a thing of the past if the law enforcers do not adopt a more professional way of policing events and managing people who would like to exercise their various freedoms.

We know the Police in most political cases are not after justice but use their power to either inconvenience or embarrass suspects.

This should change as most Zambians are demanding the respect for their rights.

Even arbiters such as courts of law are beginning to realise that in most cases Police are using heavy handed methods to enforce law and order.

This lack of preparedness by the Police has often times come with embarrassing consequences.

Already, the Police have lost major human rights cases which reinforce the argument that the law enforcement officers have been acting contrary to their profession.

Only a few months ago, Police in Kasama arrested Alliance for Better Zambia president Frank Bwalya on trumped up charges of defaming the President.

When the case went to court, our Police service was embarrassed as they did not have evidence to back up their charges.

The same episode manifested itself in the Lusaka magistrate’s court yesterday.

Five UPND cadres yesterday walked to freedom after the Lusaka Magistrates Court acquitted them on one charge of idle and disorderly conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.

The UPND cadres were accused of having conducted an illegal demonstration along Addis Ababa Road in June 2012 by blocking the road with stones, tyres and also urinating on it.

While the cadres pleaded not guilty to the charge, the Police went ahead with the court processes.

In passing judgment in a fully parked court room, Magistrate Ng’ambi said he was not satisfied with the state witness’s evidence as they were all police officers acting upon instructions from their superiors.

Magistrate Ng’ambi acquitted the accused persons after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove their case beyond any reasonable doubt.

The magistrate relied on an independent witness who disapproved Police’s charges.

The Zambia police has extensively abused the Public Order Act, harassing and arresting political and civil society organisations leaders for wanting to exercise their fundamental right of assembly.

Just last week, Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission chairperson Justice Frederick Chomba questioned why the police have continued implementing the archaic Public Order Act.

It is not surprising that the police would not heed the advice from Justice Chomba because their actions apart from being out of impulse rather than reason are largely influenced by the political command.

The tense political situation is often caused by the partisan police service and as we approach the 2016 general elections, we hope that the police will re-examine their conduct and refuse to act on the whims of those in power.