CENTRAL Province NDC chairperson Agnes Phiri has appealed to the Human Rights Commission to intervene in a matter where police have detained her for about a month at Lusaka Central Police.
Phiri, who was arrested over a month ago for possessing a firearm, complained that even after the owner of the gun confessed that it was indeed his, police had not released or taken her to court.
She called on the HRC to take interest in the matter stating that her rights were being infringed just because she was a member of the opposition and that she was clad in a UPND sweatshirt the day she was arrested near Stanley Bar in Lusaka.
“The gun in question is not mine. It belongs to my boss and he availed himself before police to explain the reason why I was having it on that day. After the owner of the gun confirmed that it was indeed his, I was however also charged with possession of a firearm together with the owner,” Phiri explained. “I am now wondering why I have been kept here for such a long time without being taken to court. Is it because I am connected to the UPND Alliance? If they can’t release me on bond, then let them take me to court. This is an injustice based on the political party I support and belong to.”
Broken and dejected as she gripped the bars of the holding cell, Phiri further complained that her affiliation with the UPND should not be the basis on which PF should instruct the police not to give her bond or taken to court.
She said some police officers had whispered to her that there were PF officials who had threatened the police not to release her owing to her association with the alliance.
“A month is too much. I am a mother and wife, and these people should have a human heart. Even if I am guilty, I don’t deserve to be treated like this just because I am an official of the opposition,” said Phiri. “If they have no case against me, let them release me and if the opposite is the case, let them take me to court and be heard. I call upon the Human Rights Commission to help me on this matter. I have suffered too much for merely exercising my right to belong to a political party of my choice.”
But Zambia Police Lusaka province deputy commissioner James Masiye defended the police decision saying the delay to take Phiri to court was the fault of the National Prosecution Authority.
“As I said, I have confirmed the docket went to NPA but they were charged both, herself (Phiri) for being found in possession of a firearm and the owner of the firearm for failing to secure it,” he said. “So those offences exist and are separate of each other. So we are just waiting to hear from NPA as to when they will be able to indict the matter and appear in court.”
Masiye said although he would not speak for and on behalf of the NPA, if they take another week in processing the indictment, the two suspects would continue being in detention because police cannot take the matter to court.