HC Deb 15 April 1958 vol 586 cc7-8
28. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what circumstances the police opened fire with automatic rifles on a crowd of 5,000 Africans in Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, on 10th April; how many casualties resulted; and on whose authority this order was given.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The incident occurred following demonstrations, ostensibly against a recent raising of hut rents, most of which are payable by employers. A crowd of about 2,000 Africans refused to disperse when called upon to do so. Baton charges and tear smoke had no effect. Finally the crowd advanced in a very ugly mood, stoning the police heavily and inflicting damage on police vehicles. The police opened fire with two automatic rifles—firing one round at a time. When the crowd dispersed, three men were found to have been wounded and three more were admitted to hospital subsequently with gun-shot wounds. The order to fire was given by the Superintendent commanding the Ndola District Police after consultation with the District Commissioner on the spot. The situation has since remained quiet.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is it not a reflection on the Administration in Northern Rhodesia that on the Order Paper today are questions relating to two separate incidents involving the issue of protests? Is it not regrettable that when these people protest against increases in rents the police should fire upon them?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I hope that the hon. Gentleman, having read my answer, will be more generous and accurate in his references to the Northern Rhodesian Government.

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