Two lawmakers of the opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, who are nursing their machete wounds sustained in an attack in Mwanza Region on Sunday have accused the police of colluding with gangs of thugs in the assault.
The allegations were raised yesterday by Ilemela legislator Highness Kiwia and Ukerewe MP Salvatory Machemli when this reporter visited them at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) where they are admitted.
The attack was conducted at Ibanda village, Ilemela District at around 2am.
The two MPs were among eight victims who incurred injuries from the assaulters, and later on Sunday flown to Dar es Salaam for further medical attention.
Recounting the incident, Kiwia said he received a message from the party’s red-guards notifying him over the possibility of some people bribing their agents at Ibanda village where preparations for the councillors’ by-election was to be held.
The guards, he said, had told him that he should however verify the matter with the police before visiting the area.
“I decided to go to the area immediately where I saw a packed white Land Cruiser, with 19 people on board armed with axes, gun sprays, hammers, swords, among others weapons,” Kiwia, who was the party’s campaigns’ coordinator, said.
“I realised that I was not in a safe place, so I informed the Officer Commanding District (OCD) that I had been hijacked. I also called Nyamagana legislator Ezekia Wenje but was nowhere to be seen. Finally I called Ukerewe MP Salvatory Machemli and asked him to come with the police to rescue me,” he said.
Machemli arrived after 40 minutes without the police.
However, even though when the police arrived latter, they could not rescue them from the attacks, he said.
He claimed that the gangs who were accompanied by followers of the ruling party, attacked Machemli’s car and asked him to hand over his pistol to them.
After they had attacked Machemli they threw him to the standing police van.
“It was then that things began to turn sour on my side when the gangs surrounded my car as they told me that my lifetime was approaching an end,” he claimed.
“Before they attacked me they broke the mirror of my car and sprayed me with a certain chemical making me lose control. Later I was thrown out of the vehicle as the police were watching. Lucky enough I escaped them and entered the police’s van where I saw Machemli bleeding,” he said.
For his part, Machemli alleged that despite asking for support from police who were just next to him, they only stood insitu as if nothing had happened.
Expressing his disappointment on the police force he said: “If a government official can so easily be assaulted in front of the police what about a common man?”
Machemli claimed that Mwanza Regional Police Commander Liberatus Barlow was wrongly informed by his juniors on the entire incident, saying the same was the news that appeared in the media.
He said the police did not fire any bullets to scare off the gangs though it was reported in the media that they did so in order to rescue the lawmakers.
In another development, the MPs have undergone medical check-ups at the MNH.
According to Kiwia, the services provided were good, saying his condition was improving.
“I thank the doctors for the services give, I am now waiting for the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to determine the scope and effects of the cavity caused on my head,” he said noting that the examination follows yesterday’s X-ray checks on his head and chest.
Ezelina Zambi, MHN senior nursing officer II told reporters that the legislators’ conditions were progressing well and that they would probably be discharged today.
Meanwhile, Kiwia said on the fateful day, he lost 800,000/- , wallet, bank card and his national assembly identity card.
For his part, Machemli said he lost 65,000/-, a wallet, bank card and his parliament identity card.
When contacted for comments, the Mwanza Regional Police Commander Liberatus Barlow refuted the claims saying the matter was a criminal offence and not a political issue.
Other than using ammunition to rescue the injured, the commander said, the police forces were the very people who helped the wounded.
“What the two MPs are saying amounts to disrespect of the police force who rescued them,” he said.
“Police officers are not criminals. They are the ones who saved all the people who were attacked. Tomorrow, I will issue a statement on the incident. I would also suggest that when the two MPs recover they should come and help the police force to identify the suspects,” he said.
The CCM Publicity and Ideology Secretary Nape Nnauye, for his side, said the party is wishing the victims good health.
“We condemn all who caused the trouble and harm to the people,” Nnauye said.