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 2012-03-20 02:16 pm Back to NEWS
Zambia Police Officers Allegedly Impregnated 30 School Girls
Home Affairs minister Mr Kennedy Sakeni

The recent revelations of Zambia Police personnel having allegedly impregnated 30—or at least 14, going by other reports—under-age female pupils at Limulunga and Kambule Secondary Schools in Mongu, Western Province, during last year’s Mongu fracas over issues relating to the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, must not pass without comment.

Equally disturbing, if not shocking, is Home Affairs minister Kennedy Sakeni’s apparently sacrosanct—(and therefore, the official)—attitude and stance that seem to have been adopted by the ruling PF government on the matter.

According to allegations emerging out of the Western Province from the Limulunga Secondary School headmaster and also from the contents of the Roger Chongwe Commission of Enquiry, up to 30 female school pupils in Mongu were impregnated by police officers sent to quell last year’s January 14 riots in Mongu, and who were camped at Limulunga and Kambule Schools.

Vice-President Dr Guy Scott recently brought up the matter in a parliamentary statement, alleging that about 30 girls of Limulunga Secondary School were impregnated by police officers who camped there during last year’s Barotseland Agreement disturbances.

But Home Affairs minister Kennedy Sakeni maintains that it isn’t 30 but only 14 girls that were impregnated, and even has the audacity to go on and say the girls were impregnated in ‘consensual circumstances’, further clumsily maintaining that nobody stops the parents of the affected children from lodging a complaint to the same Zambia Police Service, possibly at ZP Headquarters in Lusaka—the same place from where the same police officers were dispatched.

Alliance for Development and Democracy (ADD) president Charles Milupi has been incensed, and rightly so, by Sakeni’s callous response over the matter, and Luena member of parliament Mwambwa Imenda, who is female, charged that Sakeni is being irresponsible.

Imenda, who is a member of ADD and also of the Forum for African Women Educationists in Zambia, said no government could justify what the police reinforcements sent to quell the Mongu riots last year did to those young school girls. Imenda further charged in a recent interview that such a response, on behalf of the government of Zambia, was not expected from Sakeni, whose responsibility it is to protect all vulnerable members of society, including of course young girls and children, irrespective of where in Zambia.

She said: “It is very irresponsible of the minister to even speak the way he does!”

Mr Sakeni allegedly had gone on to compare the situation with cases of UN peacekeeping, where peacekeepers have sexually preyed on vulnerable women, perhaps even children, thereby presumably legitimizing such deeds. The message from Mr Sakeni seems to be that whatever the Zambia Police “peacekeepers” did was right because it was done during “peacekeeping”. Therefore, it makes it right, according to Mr Sakeni.

Charles Milupi has said that there is something wrong with the country’s governing system:

“This is why we say there is something wrong with the governance of this country. We raised those complaints (of police officers being camped at a school) in Parliament. We, the concerned, said that camping police officers at schools was wrong!” Milupi said.

Milupi further said: “I don’t know what the PF is up to. What we are saying is that that was wrong and it must be condemned because the government of the day created things to happen that way. We are not talking about whether that operation was correct or not. If we can accept that in Zambia, then I don’t know what we will not accept. Mr Sakeni must not say this because it happened in Western Province and not in Luapula (Province). This is a serious matter. If Guy Scott had said that this was also indicated in the Chongwe-led commission of inquiry, then it is confirmed that was the number.”

But Sakeni still maintained in a later interview that there was nobody who had stopped the girls’ parents from lodging a formal complaint to police, if there ever was a case of defilement:

“The records in Mongu show that none of those cases were reported apart from verbal reports by the headmaster, who raised a concern to the police that some of the pupils had stopped going to school because they were pregnant and had been impregnated by the police officers from Kamfinsa but honestly speaking, police normally act on cases if it is established that this is rape or defilement; or whoever is concerned reports to the police,” he said.

Sakeni further said according to the official reports in government’s possession, only 14 girls had been reported impregnated in consensual circumstances, stressing that if this was otherwise, parents must be free to report the said cases:

“Literally, there is nobody who has stopped those who thought their children were defiled from reporting. It was their understanding with the police officers, so surely does that amount to defilement?” asked Sakeni.

Zambia Online Network says:

Perhaps Mr Sakeni should learn to take his job more seriously, and in a more responsible, non-partisan manner. The issue should not be about how many girls were allegedly impregnated—(14 or perhaps 30?)—but about how old, or how YOUNG, those girls were… Most pupils in Zambian secondary schools are between the ages of only 12 and 17 years, lest we forget. It is a pity and a shame, a clear sign of lack of professionalism—based on a corrupted edifice hell-bent on deliberate intent to manipulate facts—that phrases such as “impregnated in consensual circumstances” can even be allowed to appear in a so-called official government report dealing with such a serious case involving children. The ministry Mr Sakeni heads certainly has the capacity and resources to investigate the matter further and dig deeper into the facts, and he must stop leaning back in his chair and relying on hypotheses and self-contradicting “field reports”. After all, crime cases, abuse-of-authority and even corruption cases are always followed up on based on a specified modus operandi. That modus operandi surely has an ethical code of conduct.

Even policemen-cum-“peacekeepers” must not be exempt from the long arm of the law.

 
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