Concord Times (Freetown)

Sierra Leone: Police Boss Denies Abacha Traders' Claims

Chief Superintendent Memunatu Konteh was early this week accused of beating one Bintu Kargbo, a trader at the Sani Abacha Street, into a state of comatose. The alleged ugly incident triggered a backlash from the often petulant street traders who took to the street and headed to State House to complain the female police boss to the Head of State.

Chief Superintendent Memunatu Konteh is in charge of policing the notorious street traders, who have brazenly occupied the streets, thus prevent free movement of vehicles and pedestrians. They have occupied the major thoroughfare despite a failed presidential declaration of "no sacred cows" to indiscipline and street trading.

Eyewitnesses told this reporter that the police boss started a new operation to bring sanity on the street on 30th November, which may have enraged the predominantly women traders, who have resisted several attempts to be evicted from the street.

They alleged the female police officer approached one of them and grabbed the rubber in which the victim had her wares, and as the victim refused to let go, the superintendent and her officers started beating the lady until she went unconscious.

The traders, as it has become the norm, went in protest to State House to report the incident to President Koroma.

However, in an exclusive interview with Concord Times at her Eastern Police Station, Local Unit Commander denied manhandling anybody, adding that she was only performing her legitimate police duties.

She said her mandate is from the president to ensure the smooth implementation of 'Operation WID', an operation launched by President Koroma early this year to weed out street traders from crowded streets in the city.

She said she only seized the rubber of the lady in question and handed it over to one of her officers. She said the traders in reaction rushed towards her saying enough was enough and someone from among the crowd slapped two police officers, P.C. 9295 Ann James and PC 12249 Sarah Conteh.

She said that when her men tried to arrest the perpetrator she contrived to have fainted, a ploy that was aided and abetted by her colleagues who were shouting that she had been killed.

She said that when the lady was taken to the Connaught hospital, doctors examined her and found nothing wrong with her. She was promptly released, while the two female officers who were assaulted went to see the police doctor, Dr. Rasheda, she explained.

Meanwhile, three traders are in police custody in connection with the incident.

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