VESPERS Shimunzhila’s mother, Flare, and other family members yesterday broke down uncontrollably as a clinical officer who attended to her at the University of Zambia clinic told the coroner hearing the inquest that she was lifeless when he attended to her on October 5, 2018 at 02:00 hours.
A solemn atmosphere characterised courtroom eight as Vespers’s mother and her relatives walked out as they cried.
Clinical officer-general Michael Mudenda Simukumbwa, 48, narrated that when he attended to Vespers, she was lifeless but he did not make a conclusion and referred her to Levy Hospital.
He said Vespers was brought to the clinic by her fellow students and a nurse, Thomas Mulela, informed him that there was a patient in a critical condition.
He said Vespers was taken to the clinic around 02:00 hours on October 5, 2018.
He said while Vespers was lying on the examination couch, he saw that her clothes were coloured with black powdered substance.
Simukumbwa said Vespers was wearing a white vest, a bum short and a Chitenge wrapped around her.
He said since she was not talking, he had to establish whether there was life or no life.
Simukumbwa said he examined the eyes and found the pupils were fully dilated and were not responding to light and there was no spontaneous activity in her.
The witness said he got a stethoscope and found there was no heartbeat.
He said the pulse rate was also absent; ” It was zero.”
Simukumbwa said Vesper’s chest was also not rising to signify breathing.
He said there was no neurological response and when he touched the feet, there was no movement.
The witness said he managed to open the mouth and found that the tongue was extremely dark.
He said he pressed the chest to stimulate the heart and as he pressed the chest, the dark substance also came out of the mouth.
He said the case was not manageable and he did not find life in her.
The witness said he recommended Vespers to be taken to Levy Hospital which was the nearest facility and the nurse and some students accompanied her.
He said he was working attending to other people.
Simukumbwa said he did not make any conclusion and thought she could have been in an unconscious state.
He said he refereed Vespers to Levy because UNZA does not have equipment to resuscitate someone in a state she was in.
Asked by one of the lawyers representing the family Mulambo Haimbe, the clinical officer said other students told her they found Vespers in her room in a stumping position.
He said she was not breathing but he did not make conclusions.
He said he was told that Vespers’s room was smokey.
Simukumbwa said on the material day, there was a lot of police officers and teargas, which they could smell even from the clinic.
He said a lot of students were running all over to find peace.
And Emmanuel Muma, 26, a third year Law student and resident of Mwanawasa Hostels at Great East Road campus.
He said around 01:00 hours, he was at October Hostels block four which was opposite October two, a female hostel.
Muma said he heard voices of students shouting fire! fire! And he decided to go to the hostel where people were shouting – third level of October block two.
Muma said instinctively rushed to pick a bucket from his room to try and quench the fire.
He said other students ALSO carried buckets and hosepipes for fire extinguishers and together they tried to put out the fire for about 20 minutes.
Muma said they were trying to quench the fire from a distance but while doing that, the police fired teargas near the block where they were and so they had to run away.
He said after they managed to reduce the fire to the level where they could go through the passages, he suggested that they should check the rooms on that level in case there was someone who was left behind.
Muma said they started checking the gutted room 21 because there was less fire on the other side.
He said they proceeded to check the other rooms 22,23 and 24 and there were no students.
Muma said thereafter, they checked room 25, on the left side of the room, which was demarcated with lockers, but there was no one.
He said he proceeded to check the right side of room 25 and he found a lady in a squatting position between a bed and a table.
Muma said the room was quite smokey and the moment they saw someone, they picked her because they could not stay longer in the room and went downstairs as it was smokey.
He said they managed to get transport from the security and they rushed her to UNZA clinic.
Muma noted that there was no response from Vespers in terms of her consciousness and they were referred to Levy Hospital.
He said when they got to Levy, they were attended to by a doctor and nurse, and Vespers was placed on the bed.
He said the female doctor asked the nurse to get a machine but later said it was not necessary as she was dead.
Muma said the case was considered a Brought In Dead and were asked to fill in a form.
He said they were told that since the mortuary at Levy Hospital was full, the officers advised them to take Vespers’ body to UTH.
Muma said at that point, they got back in the ambulance and went to UTH police where they gave information, which was entered in the OB book, after which they were referred to the mortuary.
He said Vespers’ room had visible smoke and it was dark because the light was off but they were able to spot her as they used the phone torches.
Muma said he actually suffered a cough the following day.
He said the door to the room was closed.