TWENTY-ONE cadres believed to belong to the United Party for National Development (UPND) have been arrested by Police in connection with Tuesday’s rioting in Choma.
Meanwhile, a Toyota Corolla registration number AJB 4809, which was used by three cadres to cause commotion have since been impounded.
The UPND cadres, who had gathered along the main road to receive their party leader HakaindeHichilema, blocked traffic, climbed on moving trucks and started throwing stones at passing motor vehicles, which resulted in three of them, including a police Land Cruiser registration number ZP 2312B, being damaged.
However, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma accused the police of throwing tear gas canisters at his party members who had lined up along the Choma-Lusaka Road.
Police spokesperson Charity Chanda said in a statement that in trying to restore order, three police officers sustained injuries after being stoned by the rioters.
“Arising from the unruly and riotous behaviour, police used tear gas to disperse the cadres. As Zambia Police, we wish to strongly condemn the conduct of these UPND cadres,” MsChanda said.
She said it was unfortunate that the UPND leadership could not restrain their cadres even after having assured the Police Command in a meeting that was held at police headquarters that they would always abide by the provisions of the Public Order Act (POA) and ensure that they would maintain law and order during their processions.
MsChanda said violence should never be condoned and all violent situations would be dealt with seriously.
“The conduct by UPND cadres as witnessed in Choma shall not be condoned and for this reason, all the apprehended suspects will be taken to court and prosecuted for their involvement in the riotous activity,” MsChanda said.
She called on all political leaders to ensure that they prevailed on the conduct of their cadres even as they notified the police of their intentions to hold political activities.
However, MrKakoma said in an interview that the 21 UPND members who were arrested had not committed any crime and that police should set them free.
“The fracas ensued after police started firing tear gas, but our party members were simply lining up to welcome our party leader,” hesaid.