HOME Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu has ordered the police to make immediate arrests and bring closure to the matter involving the killing in cold blood of a PF cadre in the intra-party clashes in Lusaka on Thursday.
Mr Lungu, who read the Riot Act to his officers, said no time, resources and initiative must be spared in establishing who was behind the crime and bringing them to book.
The Home Affairs Minister, who said he was speaking on behalf of President Sata, told the police and other security wings to be “fearless” in their pursuit of justice.
“The police must know that I have instructions from the President for them to act swiftly to get to the bottom of this crime. A crime has been committed, blood has been spilt needlessly and President Sata wants to know who committed this crime and why …those are my full instructions from the Commander-in-Chief himself,” Mr Lungu said.
Mr Lungu urged the police to be “fearless” and objective in their probe and ignore the fact that the “criminal elements” could be from the ruling party.
“We are a party that wants to be above board, hence the reason we have continued to denounce this kind of senseless and embarrassing violence since it occurred. I am speaking here as head of security and chair of the party disciplinary committee …arrest and interrogate anyone regardless of their position whom you think had something to do with this crime within your [police] legal means. This is an order and it’s what President Sata seeks.”
Mr Lungu said if the police do not get to the bottom of the murder, there shall never be peace in the party and President Sata will have little or nothing to act upon.
“President Sata needs to act but he needs to act on solid evidence and it’s the police’s job to gather that evidence. PF is not inherently a violent party. It’s a few charlatans that have fueled this unprecedented violence and police shall smoke them out,” he said.
One person died while two were reportedly admitted to the University Teaching Hospital intensive care unit with serious wounds.
Another five were seriously wounded but discharged after treatment.
It remains unclear what sparked the intra-party fight but Mr Lungu expressed confidence that once the police arrest a few kingpins, the truth shall be laid bare.
“I am sure once we put some suspects on the spot, they will sing like canaries. I have confidence in the police and President Sata is waiting to see results,” he said.
The murder incident that happened at the height of peace in the country has been described by many as an extremely sad chapter and a glitch on the serene history of Zambia.
Many international pundits have in the past described Zambia as a haven of peace with Mr Lungu adding: “Peace and harmony have forever been our biggest sales pitch for almost 50 years. We lose this reputation, we lose a lot.”
He said the country and the party in power must come to a point where it must start healing itself internally and externally and do so quickly after the needless loss of a life and a backdrop of serious injuries.
“The President is not happy with this, I can tell you. That’s why my message has this strong tone,” Mr Lungu said.
“Police must give me hourly and daily updates on what they are doing to seal this case…this is not going away easily as long as I am Home Affairs Minister,” he said.
And the number of PF cadres arrested for riotous behaviour has increased from 19 to 23 following the arrest of four more.
Police spokesperson Charity Chanda said the four were arrested to help police with investigations into the riots.
Mrs Chanda said all the 23 suspects will remain in police custody until investigations into the matter are concluded.
And University Teaching Hospital public relations manager Mwenya Mulenga says the condition of one of the PF cadres admitted to the hospital remains stable.
Mr Mulenga said the patient will remain admitted in the surgical ward until medical personnel carry out investigations to ascertain the extent of his injuries.