April 21, 2016
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA — A spate of recent killings in this capital city’s densely-populated slums of Zingalume and George sent throngs of people to the streets, where they protested to demand police action. The deaths are widely believed to be ritual killings.
But what started as a peaceful protest turned ugly as people began throwing stones and looting shops, primarily those owned by foreigners. The looting quickly spread to other slums in Lusaka, including Chawama, Kanyama, Chaisa, Kabanana, Mandevu and Chipata.
According to a statement released by Davies Mwila, the Minister of Home Affairs, the looting was sparked by a false rumor that police had released a foreign national suspected to be a ritual killer.
Police and military were deployed to restore peace, he says.
Charity Munganga Chanda, a spokesperson for Zambia’s police service, also released a statement, noting that the riots began when a rumor spread that human body parts had been found in a foreigner’s shop.
Since mid-March, six people have been killed in Matero constituency. In two cases, hearts were removed from the bodies, and all six bodies had missing ears and genitals, Chanda says.
Two more people died during the riots, when they were burned to death in Kanyama, a Lusaka slum, according to Chanda’s statement.
In total, 62 shops, most of which are owned by foreigners, were looted, according to Chanda. Those actions led to the arrest of 256 people.
Chanda says this is the first time the country has experienced widespread riots and looting.
“Our country has been known for peace. Foreigners live here in harmony and we will not tolerate criminality,” she says.
So far, 11 people have been arrested in connection with the ritual killings, Chanda says.
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly referred to Davies Mwila as the inister of Home Affairs, rather than the Minister of Home Affairs. The article has been updated. Global Press Journal regrets this error.