IT is always very important to do things the right way, even if it calls for our greatest efforts.
If things were done the right way, it wouldn’t have required four days for the police to give the President a report on the shooting and killing of two innocent and unarmed people.
If things were done the right way, the report on it would have been instant – 24 hours at most.
If things were done the right way, all the commands up to the shooting would have been documented.
I have not been in the police but I believe the procedures for crowd, riot, or protest control are similar to those followed by military units.
No field commander disperses a crowd without a written order. When that order is given, snipers are chosen, usually one per platoon. These are the only soldiers with live ammunition. And the number of bullets each sniper is given is recorded. No one just jumps out of a troop carrier and starts shooting. The crowd is told using loud speakers to disperse. They are intimidated in all sorts of ways.
The unit responsible for dispersing the crowd should also have a banner clearly instructing the crowd to disperse.
If that fails, the field commander should seek further orders about the next move. The order to shoot and disable the ringleaders, who have been identified in the crowd, should come from on high. All these orders are well recorded.
The snipers will be given specific orders by the field commander to shoot. When the crowd had been dispersed, the unit is regrouped to take stock of the arrests and injuries or deaths on both sides. And each sniper accounts for the ammunition given to him. In this way it is not difficult to know who fired his gun and how much ammunition was used.
Crowd dispersal of that magnitude could not, therefore, be a low-level command issue.
What is also shocking in this case is that the shooting took place in front of the police headquarters and ministries of home affairs and defence. And this is where the Vice-President’s office is and where the chief of military intelligence works. What was his report to the President?
What did the army commander, who is the chairman of the Joint Security Committee, know and tell the President?
What did the chief of intelligence know and tell the President?
We have all pointed fingers at the Inspector General of Police, but what about all these other people, including the Minister of Home Affairs, who had been issuing so many “orders” and statements in relation to the issue?
The picture that emerges here is one of an inefficient, ineffective and disorderly security system – veritable chaos.
And to top it all, the Minister of Home Affairs tells the nation that an opposition party brought in mercenaries to disturb the country’s peace and should have left or been arrested. What madness is this? Why were they not arrested if they were there? This is a very cheap and poor way of trying to divert public attention from the regime’s crimes.
But those with responsibility for these killings shouldn’t kid themselves that the matter is over. This will come back to haunt them in the future. These are very serious human rights violations, which can cause someone to be rejected as an ambassador to some countries. This happened to former Inspector General of Police Mateyo, who was rejected as ambassador to Germany in similar circumstances. There are also some officers from our security agencies who have been rejected by the United Nations for various postings on similar grounds.
They can be protected today, but that protection won’t last forever. One day they will have to account for their part in these killings and human rights violations.
This is a matter of great public interest and the President must release the report of the findings to the public. He can’t simply sit on it. All, especially the families of the two innocent citizens who were killed, deserve to know what really happened and who were responsible for those deaths.
Garden Compound, Lusaka.