Police on the Copperbelt have briefly detained and released Citizens First President Harry Kalaba for allegedly holding an illegal meeting in Kalulushi District.
Mr. Kalaba was meeting party supporters and congregating at churches in Lufwanyama and Kalulushi when armed police officers intercepted him at a private home in Kalulushi on Sunday.
The Citizens First leader first congregated at St. Joseph Mission Catholic Church in Lufwanyama before moving to Kalulushi where he visited St. Francis Catholic Church and later met supporters at a private home.
Mr. Kalaba was summoned to Kalulushi Police Station on Sunday afternoon where was interrogated over his tour of the Copperbelt Province.
After being released from custody, Mr. Kalaba told reporters that Police warned him against holding meetings without notifying them.
He said police were agitated that he was conducting illegal assembly without notifying them in Ndola, Kalulushi and Lufwanyama at the weekend.
“On Saturday evening, I went to Lufwanyama District as you may know; we are mobilizing our party Citizens First. We want many people to know about our political party. We are meeting leaders and discussing party issues. From Lufwanyama’s St. Joseph Mission we went to St. Francis Catholic Church in Kalulushi to worship on Sunday morning. From St. Francis Church we went to the home of our official Mrs Munthali (Citizens First National Chairlady), to have lunch. As we were eating in that house police in full riot gear came and told us that we should have notified them. Police came to say we are violating the public order act because you are more than eight people. Police say our meeting was illegal because we were fifteen (15). We were just fifteen,” Mr. Kalaba said.
Mr. Kalaba said Police should not expect him to move alone because he was a political party president with followers.
“Police said we were having an illegal assembly but I explained to them that I am a political party president. I don’t move alone. People follow me. When I start moving alone you say people will begin saying Citizens First is one man’s show. When I move with people you say it is an illegal assembly. Kanshi ku bantu takwaba kuwamya (You can please everyone).My colleagues tried to explain that that person (Kalaba) you are looking for is eating but the police told him to follow us to the Police Station. I refused there and then to follow them because there was no way I was going to leave nshima and chicken. I refused to be rushed by the police and said wait. After I finished the meal I went outside the house and for sure I found police were waiting for me. Police asked me to follow them to the police but I asked them about the offence I had committed. They told me that I was conducting an illegal assembly but I asked them if they had seen a meeting because I was just eating but the police insisted that we were more than eight people. We’re not supposed to be more than eight,” he said.
Mr. Kalaba further explained how the acting officer incharge at Kalulushi Police Station wanted him to sleep in cells.
“Police should even go into compounds and see how people live. In some homes there are more than 20 people living there. Some houses accommodate more than 25 people. As Africans we live in extended families. We are not whites who live in families of six or five. That is how they took me to Kalulushi Police Station and said some senior police officers will come from Kitwe to interrogate me. That is how the Police deputy officer commanding came from Kitwe to question me. They told me not to come to the province without notification. The police were courteous but the police officer incharge insisted that Kalaba you will sleep in police cells. But I said there is nothing strange about being arrested. That is how I was arrested and briefly detained until we explained to the senior police. We were then released,” Mr. Kalaba said.
Mr. Kalaba had earlier on Saturday afternoon met party officials in Ndola District.