4 August 2012

Zambia: Suspected Ex-DRC Soldiers Terrorise Mupena Residents

RESIDENTS in Mufulira's Mupena area are living in fear of suspected armed former Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers who have allegedly been terrorising them for some time now.

Some of the residents have resolved to staying in ant hills for fear of being victimised and robbed.

This was brought to light yesterday when Coppperbelt Police chief, Mary Tembo met the community to seek partnership with the residents as some of the ex-soldiers were kept by the residents.

Mupena area is 28 kilometres from Mufulira and lay on the border stretching from Mokambo to Sakania areas.

Mupena Community chairperson, Gideon Mwanza said the ex-soldiers allegedly worked with the local people to rob residents.

"The farmers at Mulundu near Lumina border have fled their farms because they have been victims of robberies involving personal belongings and some are living in ant hills," Mr Mwanza said.

He said the only clinic was broken into several times and properties belonging to the health workers grabbed.

Mr Mwanza said gun shots were frequently heard thus causing fear among the residents.

He said Mupena Road which goes into DRC was being used by criminals to transport stolen vehicles into the neighbouring country.

"Property and goods stolen elsewhere is also kept here before it is transported into DRC," Mr Mwanza said.

He called on the police to immediately set up a police post in order to curb criminal activities.

Mupena Middle Basic School head teacher, Douglas Chama told Ms Tembo that 10 young girls below the age 16, the youngest being nine, were married off to some Congolese men in January this year.

Mr Chama said the parents were to blame because they accepted to marry off their children because of love for money.

Ms Tembo said she would set up check points and deploy officers to frequently patrol the area.

She said the police was concerned with the reports she got hence the move to put up the measures.

The police chief, however, said it would be difficult for the police to effectively work if the community did not provide information.

"This is the more reason we want to partner with the community and the school to bring the culprits to book," she said.

Ms Tembo who interacted with the pupils at the school counseled them to refuse being married off at a tender age.

She said she would ensure the police command deployed responsible officers to promote law and order.

Ms Tembo, however, asked the residents to forgive the 'bad eggs' in the police who were first deployed there but started working with the criminals.

She said this after James Kanyanya said previously, there was a group of paramilitary officers deployed there but ended up aiding criminals.

"Forgive us those days are long gone. I will ensure that I bring responsible officers who will protect you," Ms Tembo said.

Mr Kanyanya alleged that Heifer International and Ox-Farm abandoned some projects they were carrying out with small scale farmers in the area due to lack of security.

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