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POLICE must move in swiftly and bring to an end the senseless killings that are taking place in Sinazongwe.

The general public must be protected so that they could have peace of mind and go about their lives quietly. Reports coming out of Sinazongwe that hired gunmen have gone on a rampage killing those suspected of practicing witchcraft shows that there is something amiss.

The killings have been confirmed by the acting Chief Sinazongwe, Mr Melvin Mwiinde and the member of Parliament, Mr Gift Sialubalo.

The audacity in which the latest victim, Mr Sandas Siagunze from Nzenga village, was shot and killed in the presence of his wife in their own home should send shivers in the people of Sinazongwe.

As Mr. Sialubalo said, the people in Sinazongwe were now living in fear as any difference among them seemingly culminated into one of them being killed by suspected hired assassins.

We too are shocked at the manner in which the murder was committed on Friday night.

Said Mr Sialubalo:  “The latest incident where Mr. Siagunze was killed is more shocking. It is sad that criminals can even have the audacity to follow the victims in their homes because these gunmen went to the latter’s house.

“They woke them up, and told the wife that they had come to kill her husband and just did that.”

Clearly, there is need for police and other investigative agencies to act swiftly and investigate the spate of criminal killings.

Police, for a start must investigate the source of guns being used by the criminals.

The community itself ought to open up to the police by volunteering information.  That is key to ridding the area of criminals.

Residents must act as “each brother’s keeper” and realise that no one is safe from these hired guns.

Residents must not have that fear of recrimination that they could become a target if they were seen to be helping the police in their investigations.

The choice the residents must make is simple.  They must either choose to live in peace by cooperating with the law enforcement agencies or continue to live in fear by not volunteering information that could lead to the arrest of the criminals terrorising the district

As the acting Chief Sinazongwe said, ending the scourge will need concerted efforts from both the police and the community as they could be aware of the people carrying out these atrocities against innocent people.

Mr. Mwiinde said as long as people continued concealing suspects and not providing leads to the police that would help them arrest the culprits, the issue of gunmen terrorising the villagers will continue.

If anything, Sinazongwe cannot be compared to a large metropolitan area like Lusaka with a population of almost two million people.

The bottom line is that Sinazongwe is a small district where any stranger is easily recognisable if police and residents were vigilant.

The district should not allow itself to live under jungle law.  Instead, the rule of law must prevail in the district for everyone to feel safe.

The local leadership, starting from the MP must mobilise the community with the help of the police and plot the way forward to strengthen security. 

As the acting chief said, “while it is the role of the police to investigate and bring culprits to book, I think the community have been a let-done in these issues.

“The people who are hiring these killers may be among the villagers but if this information is not relayed to the police, they cannot do anything.”

A proactive community is key to ensuring peace in Sinazongwe.  The residents should not just take a back seat and hide in fear.

They must send a strong message to the criminals that they would not be cowed and would do anything to defend and protect their freedoms.

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