from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE rising cases of abductions and murder of children is becoming a serious national security issue in Zambia.
An escalation of such cases has been noted in recent weeksin the Southern African country.
The latest is the case of the seven-year-old boy, Nathaniel Chanda, who recently went missing and was later found dead with some of his body parts missing.
The deceased is from the central town of Kapiri Mposhi. It is alleged he drowned but the death is suspected to be a ritual murder.
In 2022, Pamela Chisumpa, a mobile money agent, was abducted by unknown people and has never been seen.
This week, police disclosed they had recovered a mobile phone belonging to Chisumpa. However, not much detail was given as police continue their investigations.
It was later discovered that a total of 12 other young women had also been abducted alongside Chisumpa.
“Now it seems the perpetrators have changed their target and they are now focusing on school going children,” lamented Given Lubinda, Vice President of the main opposition Patriotic Front (PF).
Recently, police arrested two suspected criminals in connection with the murder of a 10-year-old girl, Universal Kamushi, who went missing on March 24 in the capital, Lusaka .
The suspects are aged 25 and 36.
Police have also arrested a witchdoctor and his son in connection with the same incident.
“As Zambia Police Service, we have noted with concern the escalating cases of missing persons, majority of which are children,” said Lemmy Kajoba, the Police Inspector General.
“Police investigations have so far revealed that most of these cases turned out to be abductions by people who happen to be known or close to the victims,” the police chief revealed.
Kajoba also recalled the murder of ten-year-old Chikondi Banda, allegedly killed by a 24-year-old neighbor.
Banda and Kamushi were abducted while they had left their homes for school.
The police chief has directed officers under the Zambia Police Community Services Department (CSD) to enhance security sensitization programmes in schools, churches and compounds countrywide.
“I wish to sound a timely warning to would-be perpetrators of such crimes that we are monitoring with keen interest and we will do everything possible in order to pursue offenders and make sure that they are made to answer for their actions,” Kajoba warned.
Last week, an eight-year-old boy shot dead his 11-year-old friend in a freak accident in Makeni, also in the capital city.
The firearm allegedly belonged to the former’s grandfather, aged 72.
The elderly man has been charged with the offence of “failing to secure a firearm” while his grandson has been taken to the Social Warfare for custody.
Police in the southern Sinazongwe are looking for a male suspect aged between 25 and 35 of Siapaka Village for allegedly sodomising a three-year old boy.
Recently, police arrested a motorbike driver who knocked dead a six-year-old girl in the Luangwa area of Lusaka.
Meanwhile, this week, police received a false report concerning the abduction of a pupil at Hillview Park Primary School.
“We appeal to members of the public to be calm,” said Danny Mwale, the Deputy Police Public Relations Officer.
“We are moving in to those circulating false information on social media platforms about reports of children being abducted in some parts of Lusaka.”
The police are working with schools liaison officers to educate pupils and teachers on basic security tips.
Lubinda has since called on the “New Dawn” government of President Haikande Hichilema to interrogate the causes and manner of the abductions and murders.
“The police and other law enforcement agencies must step up patrols and surveillance operations especially in public places such as shopping malls, schools, churches and hospitals among others,” Lubinda appealed.
“Government must do everything that it takes to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure that appropriate measures are taken to completely eliminate the threat of such heinous crimes,” the opposition leader added.
Lubinda attributed the spate of abductions to the economic problems. It is believed the abductors are driven by the urge of ransoms.
“It is the responsibility of government to ensure the safety and security of all people at every given time, hence government must take appropriate measures to curb this scourge before the situation deteriorates further,” Lubinda said.
– CAJ News