3 September 2012

Zambia: Tension Grips Chambishi After Anti-Satanism Riots

A CLOUD of uncertainty continues to hang over Chambishi Town on the Copperbelt after irate residents went on rampage for the second time in two days, this time setting ablaze a market in Zambia Compound as part of the continued protest against alleged acts of Satanism by some local businesspersons.

The rampaging residents, who on Friday left a trail of destruction when they rioted in the mining township where they set on fire a number of shops and burnt to death four people whom they suspected of involvement in ritual killings, on Saturday night mobilised again and destroyed more property.

Police on the Copperbelt on Saturday arrested 110 residents of Chambishi, mostly women and children, after Friday's destruction and killing of the four.

By Press time yesterday, the 110 had not been released as they were being screened by police.

A Times of Zambia check yesterday around 10:00 hours found the situation in Chambishi, particularly Zambia Compound, still volatile with the business community living in fear of attacks and destruction of their property.

A heavy presence of police was spotted at Chambishi Police Station where a reinforcement squad from the Kamfinsa mobile unit was stationed in readiness for any eventuality.

Kalulushi District Commissioner, Joyce Nsamba, who was found in Chambishi together with Kitwe police chief, Chibesa Musa, monitoring the situation on the ground, said the market was burnt down in the hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

"The situation here is still volatile. The residents have burnt down a market in Zambia Compound," she said.

George Nyirenda, one of the people who owns shops at the market in Chambishi Mining Township where the residents on Saturday night damaged two more shops in addition to the one they burnt on Friday, said uncertainty still surrounded the town as violence was imminent.

"Right now it's calm but this can change any time just like last (Saturday) night when we were knocking off. The shop next to us was intact but when we came this morning, it had been destroyed," he said.

Mr Nyirenda said the violence that rocked the town had adversely affected business as people, despite being a monthend, were afraid of shopping at the market.

And in Zambia Compound where severe destruction to property was recorded after several shops and stands at the market were gutted, scores of people were found mobilising, with some of them vowing not to relent until justice prevailed.

A mob found gathered at one of the drinking places at the market said they were forced to take the law in their own hands because of alleged failure by the police to arrest and prosecute those allegedly involved in acts of Satanism.

They also demanded the release of their colleagues arrested on Friday and Saturday in connection with the riots and the killing of four businesspeople who include Reuben Nkandu, his nephew Dauti Katongo and shop attendant Graham Kabangazhi, with the fourth one only identified as Robert.

Copperbelt Commissioner of Police, Mary Tembo on Saturday said 110 people were arrested in connection with the riots and the killing of the four people.

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