Zambia: Lufwanyama Villagers Riot Over Street Kids
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
March 19, 2007
Posted to the web March 19, 2007
IRATE villagers in Lufwanyama district damaged three Government vehicles and injured two policemen when they ran amok over Katembula Training centre street children who are allegedly terrorising people.
The villagers in Chief Shimukunami’s area got incensed when their traditional ruler tried to calm them down during a meeting with Government officials, who included Copperbelt Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Musonda.
The street children had fled the training centre, following hostility from the villagers.The villagers had risen against the youths and were demanding that they be taken away because they were allegedly harassing women and other people.
Soon after the meeting with Government officials and traditional rulers, unruly villagers, who would not listen to any one, including their acting Chief Shimukunami, demanded that the youths be removed from the centre immediately or there would be bloodshed.
The villagers started throwing stones and other missiles, injuring two officers, Davison Mwamuwa from Kalulushi Police station and Mubita Mumbusa, from Kitwe East station.
The two officers sustained injuries and were rushed to Kalulushi Government Hospital, where they were treated and discharged around 23:30hours.
The three vehicles, two from the police and one from the ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, had their windscreens shattered.
In the ensuing fracas, the permanent secretary, Senior Chief Chiwala and some officers from the ministry of Youth, Sports and Child Development, were holed up until calm returned after 22:30 hours.
Copperbelt police chief, Antoneill Mutentwa, said the permanent secretary and other Government officials were safely evacuated after 22:30 hours and that calm had returned to Lufwanyama district.
Earlier, the villagers jeered at their chief as he tried to address them as the meeting was closing.
During the meeting, the acting Chief Shimukunami and his two indunas, only identified as Chituli and Mayauli, publicly supported the demand for the removal of the youths.
The acting chief told the meeting that the villagers would not accept any explanation or delay to remove the youths from the centre.
"The people will not accept any explanation. What they want is these youths here to be removed and even if you tell me to talk to them, they will not listen," the acting Chief Shimukunami said.
Before the Chief could finish explaining, the two indunas warned that if Government wanted to see bloodshed in the area, it should ignore the calls from villagers to remove the youths.
But Mrs Musonda said she was disappointed that, while the Government had taken measures to address the problem of street children by opening up skills training camps where the orphans and vulnerable children could learn skills, some people were frustrating the efforts.
Mrs Musonda said the rehabilitation and training of former street children was a serious Government programme which deserved to be supported by all communities.
"The late Chieftainess Shimukunami was very supportive of this Government’s programme, but I am very disappointed that the support we had with the late Chieftainess is not there any more," she lamented.
But villagers started heckling her, insisting that the only solution was to send away the former street children so that peace could return to the area.
Even pleas from Chief Chiwala to reason with them failed, as they remained adamant that the youths should leave immediately.
Chief Chiwala said he was disappointed that the villagers had refused to support the programme.
He was disappointed with the villager’s hostility towards government officials present at the meeting to resolve the problem as they blocked the road with logs.