By PASSY HAACHIZO –
A ZAMBIA National Information Services (ZANIS) employee has accused soldiers at the Zambia Defence Force and Staff College in Lusaka of harassing her for taking pictures with her friends near the school.
Ngabwe district information officer Catherine Sakala said she was asked to roll on the ground while army officers were pouring water on her on Sunday.
“We were just passing and the area is a residential one, near where people draw water and there is a clinic nearby and exposed to the public. I was about to separate with friends and we decided to take pictures for remembrance,” Ms Sakala said.
“But the soldiers started to verbally abuse us and when I tried to explain, they said they would start with the spokesperson for the group. So that is how I was made to roll on the ground as one kept pouring water on me and the others kept on mocking me,” she said.
Ms Sakala, who later reported the matter to the Human Rights Commission (HRC), said it was unfortunate that the soldiers refused to listen to the apology.
HRC spokesperson Mwelwa Muleya confirmed receiving a report from Ms Sakala on the alleged abuse, saying the commission had started investigations.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Muleya said the commission would decide on what action to take after engaging the authorities at the military college.
He said should the officers be found wanting, the law would take its course to prevent men and women in uniform from subjecting innocent and powerless civilians to dehumanising torture.
“I want to confirm that Ms Sakala showed us the pictures of her and the friends at the scene but we are still working on the case,” Mr Muleya said.
“You know this is not the time of one-party State where civilians were not even allowed to pass near a post office after 18:00 hours, and it must be understood that not everyone knows what is required of the army.”