Saviour Chishimba – PRISON DIARY: Part 2 – Arrest and Detention (Day 1)

In winding up on the motion of thanks, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the role that my lawyer, Mrs. Lilian Mushota, played in trying to secure my release. Mr. Simubala Makondo was another lawyer I retained on the second day of my detention. Let me also make mention of other close family members like Chikwanda Hanene, Mr. Kondwani Kanweka and my uncle Mr. Humphrey Kunda who was a key architect in contributing to the development of Zambia’s foreign policy in the early 1970s.
My arrest was sealed when I accepted an invitation from Diamond TV who called me for a pre-recorded interview a day before my being nabbed. I knew that there was something odd about the invitation because I had strange heart palpitations the moment I accepted to go to Diamond TV, but I was not sensitive enough. I told my family about the strange feelings I had.
After the interview, Mr. Costa Mwansa walked with me into a plain clothed police ambush. We were talking as we walked to the car park, but the moment I was delivered into the hands of my captors he (Costa) suddenly kept a distance and his demeanor changed. He stepped aside and gave way for the arresting officer to step in and tap my shoulder with the words, “you are under arrest”.
I thought it was a joke and wanted to proceed to the car I used when going to the TV station, but lo and behold, another plain clothed officer stepped forward to announce my arrest. I tried to retreat, but there too was another officer announcing my arrest. My attempt to step forward was also thwarted by another plain clothed police woman who equally announced my arrest. At this staged, I realised that I was in an ambush.
When I asked for the charge, the police simply responded, “that’s not important…just accompany us to the police station…” I asked for the ID and one of them flashed it out. I told the officers that I was still not too sure if they were police men and women and complained that it was a very dangerous approach to ambush and arrest a leader on the street.
My reasoning was that anyone, including cadres and corrupt elements, can pose as police to abduct me. I am a whistleblower on many high profile corruption cases under the #BringBackOurMoney! anti corruption crusade and as such my security was paramount. I reminded them of how PF cadres wanted to abduct me when I openly challenged President Michael Sata for the presidency in the PF. All these pleadings landed on deaf ears.
To my dismay, I did not see the Diamond TV news crew filming this event. They were all just watching as this was going on.
Noting that the police were becoming rougher and tougher on me, I decided to cooperate and accepted my fate. They put me in their vehicle and on the way they took away my phones (iPhone and Samsung). On the way to the police, one of the officers received a phone call and I heard the caller instructing him, “take him to that place after the warn and caution”.
Within minutes of arrival at police headquarters, the police asked me, “have you posted anything on Facebook?” I replied, “no, I have not”. Suddenly all of them in Room 45 were annoyed that my arrest was already breaking news.
After my lawyer’s arrival, they took me to our party headquarters at No. 10, Reedbuck Road, Kabulonga where the police asked for a copy of the media statement I issued on 7 July, 2017 and I gave them.
On our way back to police headquarters, the arresting officer received another phone call and I heard the caller instructing him, “don’t take him to that place, take him to Woodlands Police instead”. It would appear to me that it became very difficult to take me to “that place” since my arrest was now a matter of public interest.
At police headquarters, I was warned and cautioned for defamation of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. After my signing for the caution, the police informed my lawyer, “madam, your client is going to be detained”. Her attempts to ask for a bond failed because officers used the pretext of ongoing investigations. The police also gave me a seizure notice for my signature in respect of my phones which they took away on the way to police headquarters. They also asked for passwords, but I categorically refused to either sign or give them my passwords.
I was then driven to Woodlands Police Station. There are two police cells – one had many people while the other had only one person who was violently trying to open the heavy grill door. The police wanted to put me in the cell in which the violent man was, but inmates shouted loudly, “officers please don’t put the President in that cell because the man who is in there will literally kill him in cold blood. He is a drug addict who become mad and he severely beat all of us in this cell until we called for police help who came in and opened that cell where he is being held alone”. I am grateful to God that the passionate plea of inmates saved my life.
After a warm welcome by inmates and all that happened as I have already penned down in part one of my diary, a Zambian SABC correspondent,  namely, Paul Siambala gave me a graphic account on how he was arrested by the police in Choma. He said he was taken to Lilayi for torture and that he had been to several places for questioning. He narrated how several Zambians are being arrested and detained and these are the stories he was documenting before his arrest on account that he was sympathetic towards the opposition. Close to midnight, men in suits came to the cell, they handcuffed him and took him away. I literally failed to sleep thinking about his fate.
Another inmate who had several scars gave me an account of how he was tortured – he undressed himself to show me fresh scars. I was particularly horrified when he gave a narration on how he was driven to a named crocodile farm and his arresters threatened to feed him to crocodiles.
There were also other young people and the youngest ones were sixteen years who were arrested and detained for loitering under emergency powers. One of the youngest was a grade 9 and others were grade eleven pupils and their parents were not aware of their whereabouts because these children had no phones. I made arrangements through my lawyers to call their parents.
I was appalled when I interacted with another inmate who was detained for days over a traffic offense. It was a named Permanent Secretary who hit into his vehicle, but the the PS  abused his authority by instructing the police to detain the gentleman.
Our nation needs healing and God is looking for saviours for the birthing of a prosperous corruption free new Zambia.
God bless our nation!
Saviour Chishimba
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