THE spate of riots and violence sweeping the nation calls for tougher and more emphatic action from the police and politicians.
While politicians are busy bickering over the Chilubi by-election communities are remaining awake the whole night for fear of being gassed by marauding gangsters.
But what is scary is this new culture of impunity the volatile security situation has spawned, where mobs of angry residents are pouncing on people and clobbering them to death on mere suspicion that they are involved in the gassing.
The riots that have rocked the capital city, Lusaka in high density residential areas should be a wake-up call to the government that mere police assurances are not enough.
There is an urgent need for stronger action and stronger pronouncements from those carrying the voice of authority. These should include high-level live addresses to nation on all major television channels, which should be widely publicised.
We cannot allow this situation where people are being brutally murdered by instant justice mobs without being subjected to the due process of the law.
As police have warned many of those victims of the lynching could be innocent.
Rumour-mongering on social media has not helped matters at all. The move videos are circulated showing brutalised victims of mob justice the more attractive such lawlessness becomes to people living in high-density areas.
This is now a crisis and it requires radical responses even if it means inconveniencing citizens’ free movement. We join the Zambia Police Service in calling for restraint and vigilance.
As the situation is in Lusaka, no one is safe anymore from both the criminals and the instant justice mobs. In some cases people have been attacked and brutally beaten after merely being found in a motor vehicle at night.
Early this week a taxi driver was dropping a passenger in one of the townships when a vigilante patrol surrounded them and accused them of being ritual killers gassing residents.
They were not given a chance to explain their presence. By the time police were arriving the passenger had been beaten to death while they managed to rescue the taxi driver.
The victim has just arrived from Central Province and booked a taxi to take him to his destination.
This kind of lawlessness should not be allowed to continue. There is also a need for police to start arresting the sources of the chemicals the criminals are using.
Surely, these people must be living among the communities. It is worrying that to date we have not heard of anyone being apprehended for being the supplier of the gassing material.
Once the sources are identified the whole thing will come to an end. Those with information should give it to the police.
We urge residents to be calm and refrain from taking the law into their own hands. Why are they destroying police posts and police stations which are meant to provide them with security?
Where will they be reporting criminal complaints when police leave their community because they have nowhere to work from? The same people will start crying to the government to send police to their area when crime increases.
We share the police’s worry about the growing trend of members of the public taking the law in their own hands by resorting to meting out instant justice on suspects.
Spokesperson Esther Katongo said on Wednesday police wanted to remind the public that mob justice amounted to criminality and that the officers were investigating all such cases and all those who would be found wanting would be arrested and prosecuted.
But we urge police and the entire government machinery to come up with a stronger response to this situation because the more it is allowed to drag on the less productive people will be.

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