18 Zambians arrested as Kariba Lake row deepens

IN A move seen as an act of revenge for the arrest and jailing of 21 Zimbabwean fishermen found fishing on the Zambian side of Lake Kariba,  Zimbabwean authorities have stepped up aggression on Zambians who stray into their territory on the international waters.

On Saturday morning, 18 Zambian fishermen were arrested and detained at Kariba police station, just a few days after another six were intercepted and arrested on the lake for allegedly fishing illegally on the Zimbabwean side of the lake.

The 24 are expected to appear in the fast track magistrate’s court in Kariba. Some corrupt police officers from both Zambia and Zimbabwe have also taken advantage of the happenings on the lake and are allegedly cashing in through bribes from fishermen to avoid arrest.

Last month, one fisherman whose body has not yet been found, is said to have died on the  lake when he, in the company of three of his colleagues, took a K4,000  bribe to some corrupt Zimbabwean police officers in order to secure the release of six of their colleagues who were in police custody in Kariba town for straying into the Zimbabwean side of the lake.

Recently, Vice President Inonge Wina cautioned fishermen in Siavonga against straying into Zimbabwean waters to fish to avoid being arrested and causing border conflicts between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Several Zambian fishermen are serving lengthy prison sentences at the notorious Karoi Maximum Prison in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean fishermen who stray into Zambian waters on the lake have also not been spared from the wrath of the Zambian law, with the latest having been the arrest and jailing of the 21 Zimbabwean fishermen by the Siavonga Magistrates Court.

During the trial of the 21 Zimbabwean fishermen, some of them currently serving prison terms in Lusaka’s Chimbokaila prison, a senior official from the Zimbabwean ruling party, ZANU-PF, was heard outside the Siavonga Magistrate’s Court saying he would ensure that Zambian fishermen who were caught in Zimbabwe are punished without mercy.