SIMON MUNTEMBA writes
SOME citizens have appealed to Government to consider deploying the defence forces to help stop the spread of gassing and related anarchy being experience in some parts of the country.
A combination of fear and anger continues to sweep across Lusaka and other parts of Zambia triggering sporadic riots and extra-judicial killings of suspects by angry mobs in communities.
Following the continuous spate of mysterious gassing of people’s homes, working places and schools which has spread from the Copperbelt to Lusaka and other parts of the country, some concerned Zambians have said there is an urgent need for Government to bring in soldiers to stop the barbaric acts.
Some Zambians randomly interviewed by the Sun yesterday said they felt the police had failed to contain the situation as the gassing was spreading like bush fire. James Sinkala, 46, a resident of Lusaka’s Mandevu Compound, said the defence forces needed to get involved if the spread of the chemical attacks was to be stopped.
“Just like they (soldiers) were deployed to help with clean-up exercise of Lusaka city to combat cholera, they can be deployed to stop the spread of gassing and riots which have spread like fire. They must be deployed immediately before a lot of innocent souls are lost,” Mr Sinkala said.
“The truth is the police seem to have failed to stop these acts and we can’t continue living in fear like this,” he said.
Another Lusaka resident, Lembani Zulu, said, “Failure by the police to halt rising gassings and the riots has led to many people living in fear. And if not stopped, these acts can degenerate into something else. So, we appeal to the President to deploy Zambia Army officers to protect the lives of citizens.”
Bridget Mulenga said much as she appreciated the efforts made by the police in trying to arrest the situation, the internal security wing needed the army’s support.
“My brother, the gassing issue is really scary. I will not allow my children to go to school now until the situation normalises. We appreciate what the police is doing but the confusing thing is that despite updating us that the suspects are arrested, the trend has continued. Maybe, they should be assisted by soldiers,” Ms Mulenga said.
And a retired Zambia army officer who asked not to be identified said much as maintaining or restoring public security, law and order was seen as a domestic task fulfilled by the police, the defence forces could only be called into combat operations if the situation was getting worse.
“The defence forces can only be called when the situation gets worse and risks the security of the country. Yes, the armed forces are expected to conduct not only combat operations against the adversary but also law enforcement operations in order to maintain or restore public security, law and order in the country.
“But be mindful that this should be in extreme situations, and under a special presidential order,” he said. Fear has gripped Lusaka residents in the wake of numerous attacks in which unknown criminals are spraying an unknown chemical into houses through windows, air vents, keyholes, door chinks and roofs.
The chemical paralyses the occupants, causes nausea and sedation (deep sleep).
Law enforcement wings are still battling to establish the motive for the chemical attacks.
Residents of high density residential areas are on high alert, especially at night.
SIMON MUNTEMBA writes