YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
POLICE have arrested 11 suspected arsonists linked to the burning of Lusaka’s City Market recently.
And investigations into the cause of fire at one of the country’s biggest markets have ruled out an electrical fault and point to arson.
Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja says preliminary investigations by a combined team of officers from the fire brigade, police and Zesco have indicated that the inferno could not have been caused by an electrical fault as the stand where the fire emanated had no power supply for a number of days, including on the day of the fire.
Mr Kanganja told a media briefing yesterday that according to the investigations, the fire started at stand No.238/239 in the yellow zone of city market.
“I wish to inform the nation that findings of the investigation taken so far by the team revealed the cause of fire was as a result of a deliberate ignition by unscrupulous people with premeditated intentions. This means that the investigations have eliminated the possibility of an electrical fault or an accident as the cause of the inferno.
“Therefore, this incident is purely an act of arson. Further, the stands had no power for three days including on that fateful day. Additionally, no electrical appliances were connected to power supply on those stands,” Mr Kanganja said.
He said investigations into the matter have reached an advanced stage and perpetrators will appear in court soon.
The Inspector General warned that police will not spare criminals regardless of their political affiliation or status in society.
He has directed all provincial police commissioners to ensure officers are alert and proactive by securing vulnerable areas and points.
He, however, cautioned police officers against abusing their authority in the execution of their duties following the invocation of article 31 by President Lungu to deal with threatened security in the country.
Mr Kanganja says the invocation of article 31 is commendable as it will enable the police to carry out investigations in an efficient and conclusive manner to safeguard lives and property.
He said police will do their best not to fail the people of Zambia now that they have been given more powers to enforce the law.
The police chief explained that during the invocation period, police will regulate and prohibit publication and dissemination of matters that are prejudicial to public safety.
Mr Kanganja has warned that the law will catch up with purveyors of falsehoods.
“By the way, let me clarify that we are not in a state of emergency, we have just been given extra powers to ensure peace, public safety and order prevails in the country.
“Members of the public are encouraged to carry out their routine activities normally but within the law. Let me once again warn those found on the other side of the law that they are going to feel the full wrath of the law and we will smoke them out,” Mr Kanganja said.