By RABECCA CHIPANTA, MILDRED KATONGO and HOPE BWALYA -
President Edgar Lungu wants the remaining two bandits now on the run after Tuesday’s armed robbery in Ndola found so that the lives of the police officers who were killed in the incident are not lost in vain.
The President’s words came as police expressed concern at the number of deaths and crimes involving firearms – some of them designated as toy-guns – and called for public support to identify people who owned such weapons.
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo told a Press briefing yesterday of Mr Lungu’s sorrow at the death of detective sergeants Ben Chilubula and Francis Kunda who were cut down by the bandits as they went after them following the K230,000 grab-job as Ndola’s Star Bakery.
Two of the four bandits were themselves killed after being cornered in Misundu area on the outskirts of the central business district. A member of the public caught in the crossfire was hospitalised.
Conveying Mr Lungu’s condolences to the families of the two officers, Mr Kampyongo said the President wanted the fugitives caught and brought to book so that the lives of the officers were not lost in vain.
His Permanent Secretary Chileshe Mulenga in an interview also advised business houses to avoid moving huge sums of money without police escort.
“As Government, we have always advised business entities not keep large sums of money at their business premises and we have always told them to seek police escort when taking the money to the bank,” he said in an interview yesterday.
His comments were echoed by Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo who noted that the incident was not the first involving Star Bakery in which huge money was targeted as it was being moved from the premises.
“My advice to business entities is that they should follow the law. We are discouraging people from keeping or moving with huge sums of money. Keeping money in the house is not safe. Let them move with security detail when going to the bank, which is the safest place to keep the money,” he said.
He said the robberies at the bakery could have been triggered by people from within the system working with criminals.
Mr Lusambo said police had beefed up security in the province following the Ndola incident and another robbery on the same day in Kitwe and pledged the culprits would be brought to book.
“We should be alert. Security is the most important thing and the police are doing everything possible to ensure that they protect the citizens and property. The Government’s priority is to ensure the safety of citizens,” he said.
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo urged the police to remain united in the execution of their duties and pledged Government’s support to them.
Meanwhile, police on the Copperbelt will start scrutinising people owning guns, regional Commissioner Charity Katanga has said.
Ms Katanga said the police were concerned at the number of crimes involving firearms.
“We have noted with concern the increase in the number of people killing one another using guns. We seem to have a lot of people moving with guns. The law is very clear; no one is allowed to use live ammunition on defenseless people and I urge members of the public who have information on those who have guns to report to the police. We need that information so that we scrutinise gun owners,” she said
She told journalists in Ndola that the law was clear on who should own a gun and those failing the scrutiny would forfeit their weapons.
She noted that there were shops on the Copperbelt that were selling toy guns that looked so much like the real thing they could be used in the commission of crime.
She said the scrutiny process would enable the police officers find out how people acquired their guns; whether they had proper documentation for them and they were able to handle them.
Ms Katanga said it was important that people took a keen interest and reported anyone they knew had a gun so that police could do their duty before lives were lost.
“It is important to take a keen interest in all other people owning guns ,because now what is coming out is that most of them – especially those who are short tempered – end up killing people in cold blood. Report people with guns and we are able and we will start scrutinising them. We have already started… there are shops where toy guns are being sold, but to us as security officers, they look like real guns,” she said.