Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
IT WAS another normal day for two police officers as they called on duty to the service of their nation.
Copperbelt police commissioner Charity Katanga was later to name the officers as detective sergeants Ben Chilubula and Francis Kunda when their tour of duty ended in death.
Mindful of criminal plans brewing elsewhere in the city of Ndola, they considered their presence crucial to the operations of the anti-robbery squad on that day.
As part of their duty, they joined forces with other two officers to pursue some robbers following a tip off from members of the public.
The anti-robbery squad swung into action to thwart a daylight robbery involving over K300,000 at Star Bakery in Ndola’s Nkwazi township.
The police officers managed to gun down two dangerous criminals during the heavy exchange of gunfire. But as fate would have it, two anti-robbery squad officers were also killed by the robbers.
On the same day, pol ice successfully gunned down another suspected bandit in Kitwe as he tried to stage a robbery.
Two of their accomplices escaped and another robber was killed near Mufuchani bridge in Kitwe.
One member of the public was injured in the crossfire and was admitted to Ndola Teaching Hospital.
This is one story which received several reviews on social media because it sounded like an incident made-for-movie.
The anti-robbery is a specialised unit in the Zambia Police Service tasked with the responsibility of undertaking operations such as the one in Ndola last week.
These are police officers who have received specialised training in handling all manner of fire-arms.
For instance, one of the victims of the shoot-out, Kunda was first trained at Sondela Paramilitary Police Training College in Kafue for 10 months from January 1990 to 1991.
He also later trained at Lilayi Police College in 1993 and was therefore specialised in operating any weapon.
For the two officers, it was not just their day. If it is not your day, you cannot survive.
That is why death is a mystery and what transpired that day remains a dark day in the police because it has lost some of its highly trained officers.
It is time police officers become more alert than ever.
It is clear from the Ndola incident that criminals now are very sophisticated, especially that some could be former servicemen from the police or military.
The shoot-out in Ndola is evident that criminals have a military skill and know how to handle the fire arms.
In this modern era where criminality is high, Police colleges should in addition re-introduce in-service training, school the men and women in criminal psychology. This skill, among others, will teach our men and women in uniform how to be emotionally intelligent.
An emotionally intelligent officer will be aware of the thoughts, behaviour, and feelings of criminals.
Such a person will have the social skill to cause desirable behaviour and responses in others around them.
There is also need for the police to be fully equipped with more armament, including bullet proof vests, shirts, trousers, socks and pants.
The public also has a huge role to be security sensitive by reporting to the police all suspicious looking individuals.
It is not just in the interest of the police but the public at large so that police can root out criminals from the community before they strike.
Owners of money-spinning businesses should not be stingy by either keeping money at their premises or indeed hiring police to guard their premises.
Keeping too much cash at business premises may tempt workers to alert known robbers about the availability of cash.
Business houses, which mint cash every minute should develop the appetite of banking the money and having law enforcement officers escorting the cash to the bank.
One cannot rule out workers involvement in some robbery schemes.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.