People of Kanono Village in group village head (GVH) Kanono’s area in Neno had a rude awakening on Sunday and Monday when police officers terrorised the village.
The officers burnt two houses, destroyed six others and assorted properties valued at over K300 000.
According to the people, police raided the village because people had blocked a railway line to protest the delay by Brazilian mining giant Vale Logistics Limited to honour its promise of constructing a bridge at the railway site where a road was cut.
Speaking during a meeting organised by Women’s Legal Resources Centre (Wolrec), where over 100 people expressed their anger towards the police, GVH Kanono said Vale promised the villagers a bridge in November last year, but it is yet to honour the pledge.
“It is not like the people here have problems with the railway, but we are putting the safety of lives as first priority and an action [blocking of the railway line] to force the responsible people fulfil their promises has rendered some homeless while others are sleeping in bushes for fear of another raid,” said Kanono.
Wolrec executive director Maggie Kathewera Banda said she is shocked that such a human rights violation was done by people who, ideally, were supposed to protect citizens’ rights.
But speaking in an interview yesterday, Southern Region Police deputy spokesperson Beatrice Mikuwa expressed ignorance that police officers from the region undertook such an exercise and promised to check with her colleagues after the Mother’s Day holiday.
This is not the first time the people of Neno have blocked the railway line. Last month they also blocked the railway and the main road in the district, accusing Vale of reneging on its pledges to the community.