FORMER Lusaka Province Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri ordered the shooting of National Prosecution Authority prosecutor Nsama Nsama and UPND supporter Joseph Kaunda on December 23, 2020, a Human Rights Commission(HRC) investigation has revealed.
The duo were gunned down as UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema arrived for questioning at Police Force Headquarters in Lusaka last December.
Following the shooting which sparked public outrage, President Edgar Lungu dismissed two deputy Inspector of Generals of Police Eugene Sibote and Bonny Kapeso.
Phiri was also fired after him and his vehicle appeared in a video where overzealous police officer was seen pointing a gun at a calm unarmed citizen.
Last week Police announced that they had arrested and charged a police officer with Nsama and Kaunda’s murder.
Constable Fanwell Nyundu aged 25 has since appeared in court but is yet to take plea.
But at a media briefing in Lusaka today, HRC chairperson Mudford Mwandenga said the investigation findings revealed that Phiri gave orders to fire live bullets on citizens who escorted Hichilema to Police Force Headquarters.
Mwandenga said based on the HRC summary findings, the commission recommended that Phiri be jointly charged and prosecuted with subordinate officer Nyundu.
“The Police command gave orders to inter alia fire live bullets. The Commission found that the orders given by the Police Command were directly linked to the indiscriminate use of live ammunition, the discharge of tear smoke, the display of warfare tactics and the excessive use of force by the Police that was witnessed on the day of the shooting incident,” Mwandenga said.
“Witnesses informed the Commission that former Lusaka Province Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nelson Phiri, gave orders to police officers to fire at the people that had gathered. On the orders of the former Lusaka Province Commissioner of Police, police officers started firing gunshots and tear gas canisters indiscriminately. The officers on an armored police vehicle were the first to fire live gun shots before a sporadic gun fire ensued leading to the shooting incident in which the two deceased men were caught up in the crossfire and killed in the process.”
Mwandenga also said statements from Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampongo and Lusaka Province Minister Bowman contributed to arbitrary action by the police which resulted into the shoot to death of the duo but the two would not be recommended to be jointly charged saying there was no substantial evidenced to link them.
He said there was no justification for the Police to use force and firearms to disperse an assembly of people who were peaceful and unarmed.
©Kalemba March 4, 2021