GUEST ARTICLE: Junkies – National Security Emergency

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By Dickson Jere

Slightly after midnight, a colleague driving on Twin-palm road in Ibex Hill found a blockade. Dozens of boys waved him down while two lay on the road as if they were hit by a vehicle. As he slowed down while approaching the scene, he instinctively realized it was trap. He peddled the accelerator towards them and they scampered! But his windows were smashed with stones. This was in upmarket area of Ibex Hill. The junkies – whose stories were mainly in densely populated neighborhoods – have slowly began getting into Mayadi.

Just yesterday, in our neighborhood WhatsApp group, someone posted how in broad daylight, his young nephew was abducted, tortured and his phone confiscated by a band of junkies. This happened right inside Meanwood Ibex and few metres away from the boy’s residence. The junkies hide in the thickets of undeveloped plot.

Their courage is always fueled by inhaling substances and getting intoxicated on what they call tunyelele which is Codeine cough mixer.

It cannot get scarier than this!

Just last month, a taxi driver was brutally murder by these boys in Kalikiliki after they blocked his vehicle in the night. Even though police moved in swiftly and arrested over 60 of them, the story of these little thugs is now everywhere. It requires a well-planned security response. When arrested, most of them get charged with “idle and disorderly conduct” which is just a misdemeanor. Within few days and upon payment of admission of guilty fees, they are out and back on the streets to commit more atrocities.

I worry about myself and the early morning joggers. I worry about school kids who walk to and from school. I worry about our mothers who walk early mornings to work or market to fetch merchandise for sale. I worry about you and me who may not have the guts to scare these little thugs when blocked on the road. Remember recently Zambia was in international media after the Israeli Ambassador to Zambia was mugged in daylight and her phone stolen? Is this the Zambia we want?
What to do…

The scale in which this scourge is growing requires concerted efforts from all security agencies beyond just the police. The community must get involved and try and assist the police and in particular to provide lasting solutions. These kids – a number of them – grew up on the streets and know no family or love. That is why they can kill with impunity. We need a solution that involves Integrating them into society – maybe Zambia National Service (ZNS) should assist. It was tried before when a couple of them were taken out of the streets to ZNS camps.

Be security conscious. Watch your surroundings. Be careful when you find an “accident scene” on the road before you stop to assist. Be careful when near uncompleted buildings.

Kalemba February 9, 2024

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