Editor's Comment

Senseless killings must stop

OUR hearts are heavy with grief over the continued senseless killings of innocent people suspected to be involved in gas attacks.
The killings, which started with one life when the gassing incidences began weeks ago, have now claimed over 40 lives.
Forty is not a small number, particularly where human life is concerned.
Even if it was one life, it is worth protecting.
Life is sacred and its value lies in the fact that it is irreplaceable.
In the eyes of God, no man is qualified to take life for the simple reason that no-one can give life.
The happenings over the past weeks are devastating and horrifying, to say the least.
We have witnessed horrifying scenes of human beings being slaughtered like chickens.
Mobs have arisen, killing anyone they suspect to be involved in gas attacks, which have engulfed the country in the recent weeks.
Some people have chosen to take the law into their own hands by killing anyone they suspect to be involved.
The most saddening part is that it is innocent lives that are being taken due to mistaken identity or sheer criminality.
This is why mob justice is not and will never be a solution.
The nature of mob justice is that it does not reason or give the accused chance to explain or defend themselves. Once one person sounds alarm, the death verdict is passed there and then.
It has been horrifying to hear of how people have been dragged from hospitals and homes to be slaughtered like animals. One of the prominent cases is that involving former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Timothy Hakuyu.
Despite seeking refuge at a lodge, Mr Hakuyu and two others were fished out and murdered in cold blood.
In another incident, a kidney patient was almost murdered after a mob mistook dialysis tubes in his possession for gassing utensils. He was only saved by a police patrol that happened to get to the scene.
As though killing is not bad enough, these murderers are recording the horrific scenes and posting them on social media, leaving many traumatised.
We never imagined that a country like ours which has been a beacon of peace on the continent for decades could reach such levels where life is devalued.
It’s unthinkable that some Zambians would be cheering and laughing while taking somebody’s life.
What happened to our humanity and conscience as a people?
What is happening is not only alien and ‘unZambian’ but criminal. Perpetrators of mob justice, just like those involved in gas attacks, are dangerous elements who need to be alienated from society.
It is also clear that criminals are disguising themselves behind mob justice with a calculated intention to rob and take life.
Zambia is governed by the rule of law. No Zambian, no matter the status or how aggrieved, is allowed to take the law into their own hands. Any such acts attract grave sanctions.
While some of those who take part in mob justice take comfort in the fact that the killing is done collectively, unfortunately that does not exclude them from the criminality.
Everyone involved, regardless of the measure, has his or her hands stained with human blood and is liable for the criminal act.
It has been said many times, and we will not relent in doing so, even if it is at the expense of sounding like a broken record, that mob justice is pure criminality which must be stopped at all cost.
The insistent occurrence of these senseless killings points to the fact that the police have a daunting task to arrest the situation to prevent further loss of life.
As rightly pointed out by the Human Rights Commission spokesperson, Mweelwa Muleya, there is need for the police to continue assuring citizens that their safety is guaranteed because this will help reduce fear and anxiety leading to instant mob justice on suspected gassers.
“People engage in instant justice for various factors, such as high levels of insecurity among the people.
“When people’s security is threatened, they resort to desperate measures like killing others – which is also wrong,” Mr Muleya said.
It is, however, comforting that police are making headway in bringing the culprits to book, in both gassing and mob attacks.
The police must be supported by all peace-loving Zambians to fight this battle. Families, the communities and the Church should help in sensitising members of the public on the ills of mob justice.
It is also important for citizens to be eyes of the police and report any suspected criminals in their localities.
Let’s stop pointing fingers but put our efforts together to fight this monster that has arisen among us.
With concerted efforts, victory is assured.

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