Editor's Comment

Restore civility in tackling crime

A SUSPECT remains a suspect and only courts can determine otherwise. In a civilised society, nobody is allowed to beat or kill a suspected criminal as the onus lies with courts.
For Zambia, it is against Christianity to take the law into your hands. That is why it is wrong for residents to be taking the law into their own hands.
Citizens are not trained or equipped to be doing that. This is lawlessness. This country has a fully functional criminal justice system which presumes a suspect innocent until the courts prove such a person or persons guilty by a competent court.
Besides, the country has the police who are trained and equipped to determine what is right or wrong to do according to the law of our country.
The right thing for residents to do is to report any suspicious act by anybody to the police, who are mandated to investigate criminality.
Where there are not enough police persons to respond according to people’s expectation, community members should learn to engage their leaders to consider giving them more security personnel.
But what is happening in Zambia is a depiction of the breakdown of law and order because citizens no longer respect the sanctity of life.
For a nation declared Christian two decades ago, its citizens are expected to be living by godly values even if or when they are provoked, such as being gassed.
That is why the act of citizens taking the law into their own hands by killing suspects is not the ideal way of dealing with the matter.
Of course some citizens may claim that their action is a way of showing that the police are not adequate in numbers and their method of responding to emergencies is wanting. But taking away the life of a suspect will never be a right.
Therefore, suspects should not be maimed or killed. The country is losing an opportunity to get to the root of the evil.
Rather, suspects should be arrested and taken to the police, through whom the truth will be extracted by investigative wings.
Investigative wings will help the country to root out this criminality once and for all and before it is too late.
When suspects are killed, law enforcement agencies will fail to get to the bottom of the matter as suspects will die with all their secrets.
The country is being deprived of suspects revealing who their sponsors are.
Zambians should have faith that the country has adequate laws to deal with suspects as well as continue to uphold Christian values anchored on love, forgiveness and tolerance.
Killing or murdering suspects is an unforgiveable offence – unpardonable by the country’s statutes and God the Creator, whom this country professes. It is against Christianity to take the law into your hands.
As President Edgar Lungu said yesterday, every person has the right to life and no one should kill another person regardless of the level of provocation.
Those killing suspects are sending a message to the country that they are holier than the suspects, some of whom are likely to be innocent.
All citizens have sinned in one way or the other; only that the sins may be different. Forgiveness to suspects should be exercised and a platform to hear the accused should be provided.
Otherwise, mob justice only sows seeds of hatred among the society since the suspects have dependants and relatives who rely on them.
Society should also be wary of criminal elements who have taken advantage of the current situation to perpetuate injustice.
No person has the right to stop and search vehicles nor beat up passengers or crews on suspicion of carrying the chemicals being used in gassing people.
One positive out of the gassing or suspected ritual killings has been the revival of neighbourhood watches, which have been very alert and working with security agencies.
Let this positive be enhanced by being civil in managing arrests.


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