via Zambia Daily Mail by Online Editor on 6/2/13
By CAROLINE KALOMBE
MATERO member of Parliament Miles Sampa has apologised unreservedly for the violence which happened at the Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA) during a ‘Black Friday’ prayer meeting.
Civil society organisations and some clergymen have mooted ‘Black Friday’ for demonstrations against the removal of subsidies on maize and fuel.
Mr Sampa said in Lusaka during a church service at BIGOCA that perpetrators of last Friday’s violence had no blessing from anyone and that he will do everything to make sure the culprits are brought to book.
“I am sorry to the members of Parliament, representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and church mother bodies for what happened,” Mr Sampa said.
“Zambians are free to speak and assemble within the confines of the law and it is not right for anyone to disrupt such meetings,” he said.
Mr Sampa said people should be free to debate government decisions and pronouncements and that the onus is on the government to listen to what the people are saying.
“If you are not happy with the removal of subsidies, speak out against it. If you are happy, you are also free to speak. Zambians enjoy freedom of speech and assembly,” he said.
He said what happened at BIGOCA is unfortunate and that such behaviour should not be condoned.
Mr Sampa said he has tried to find out who the perpetrators of the crime could be but that nothing has been established so far.
“Crime is crime regardless of who has committed it. The people who came to this church are thugs, whether they are from the Patriotic Front (PF), MMD or the United Party for National Development,” he said.
He asked the church to forgive the suspected criminals.
And BIGOCA church overseer Apostle Peter Ndhlovu said the violence was unfortunate but the perpetrators have been forgiven.
Pastor Ndhlovu said BIGOCA will remain non-partisan and work with the government of the day.
“We are non-partisan and we support the government of the day. It is our duty to commend when things are good and condemn when a wrong is done,” he said.
Meanwhile, police say they have collected the footage on the fracas at BIGOCA.
Police public relations officer Esther Katongo said investigations are underway to establish who the culprits are.
Mrs Katongo said in an interview in Lusaka that such behaviour cannot be tolerated and that law enforcement officers will bring the culprits to book.
“We will bring the culprits to book. We cannot condone illegality in our country,” Mrs Katongo said.
Mrs Katongo’s comment follows a directive by acting President and Minister of Home Affairs Edgar Lungu to ensure that they arrest suspects behind the crime.
Mr Lungu said the government will not condone thuggery and violence and directed the police to ensure that the law takes its course regardless of who was involved.
He said the Patriotic Front government does not support anarchy and that whoever was involved in the violence should face the law, regardless of their political affiliation.