21 January 2013

Zambia: 'Instant' Justice Is Injustice


THE rising crime rate in the country must be fought from all angles using legal means to protect human life and the much needed investment.

However, it is illegal for residents to mete out 'instant' justice or corporal punishment on any suspect as was the case in Matero on Saturday where a suspect was brutally bludgeoned and burnt until he died.

This sad incident will backlash: The complainant in the theft has already been questioned while his neighbours and other people in Matero are being pursued in connection with the murder of 35-year-old Lucky Mwiinga.

Instant justice has no place in the Zambian statutes and remains illegal.

Certainly, residents are fed up and frustrated with the slow pace at which criminal cases are being handled, but they must not circumvent the legal process by killing the suspects.

This is absolute murder!

It is clear that the use of plastic material to torch a human being after a thorough bludgeoning can lead to death.

Therefore, malice aforethought and intention to end life is there.

If indeed they wanted justice to prevail, they should have apprehended the suspect and handed him to Matero police station or any nearest police post for the law to take its course.

We are not at all supporting theft or any criminal activity, but merely emphasising the need for residents to cast aside their emotions in fighting crime.

You cannot fight crime by committing a more serious and capital offence such as murder.

In this column, we have on a number of occasions advised members of the public to get involved in the fight against crime. We have equally urged police officers to exploit community policing in fighting crime.

Community policing does not entail meting out instant and illegal punishment on offenders. No!

We would like to echo police spokesperson Elizabeth Kanjela's call on residents not to resort to violence against suspects.

Ms Kanjela has rightly put it that members of the public should not take the law in their hands but should instead hand over suspects to the nearest police station.

They must at all times control their emotions whenever they come across criminals, unless they are in danger. The case in Matero does not suggest that the mob was in danger.

Yes, the crime rate is high and hence the urgent need for residents to assist police clamp down on prowlers and other dangerous criminals who have gone to an extent of dismembering bodies of innocent people.

Zambia is a peaceful country which is in need of both local and Foreign Direct Investment to buoy the economy.

Foreign and local entrepreneurs will only invest their money once they are convinced that the environment is crime-free.

Therefore, law enforcement officers and communities should work together to root out criminal elements. They must only do so using legal means.

Instant justice is not justice!

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