THE truck driver who killed 12 people after plunging into a bar at Lusaka’s Buseko market has been fined K9,000 by the Lusaka High Court for causing death by dangerous driving or in default serve six months simple imprisonment.
This was after Elias Sikwenda, who earlier denied committing the offences, changed his plea and admitted the charges when the matter came up for trial before High Court judge Ruth Chibbabuka.
Sikwenda, a driver of Kabwe, who appeared before justice Chibabuka was facing 12 counts of causing death by dangerous driving.
It was alleged that on October 25, 2019, Sikwenda caused the death of Michael Mulenga, Charles Kunda, Fredrick Mwana, Jack Phiri, Sam Mbewe, Chileshe Bwalya, Given Simovwa, Silota Mwanagombe, Steven Zimba, Brian Chabala, Frank Jere and Aswell Banda.
Sikwenda allegedly caused the death of seven people on spot, and left others injured when he lost control and hit into a bar at Lusaka’s Buseko market.
The death toll increased to 12 as some of the bodies had not been retrieved on time by the police.
According to a statement issued by Deputy Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga, the incident happened after a truck belonging to BHL driven by Sikwenda lost control due to excess speed as he was trying to avoid a truck that was reversing into Lumumba road at Puma gas station near Buseko market.
The 34-year-old’s truck careered of the road, hit into a parked Corolla, a Zesco Pole and finally into a bar, 30 metres away from the road where patrons had gathered to watch a football match.
When the matter came up for commencement of trial, Sikwenda, through his lawyer, William Nyirenda, made an application asking the court to allow his client retake plea.
Justice Chibabbuka found Sikwenda guilty as charged upon his own admission of guilt.
In mitigation, Nyirenda told court that Sikwenda was 34 years old and was married and had a family that looks up to him for support.
Nyirenda said despite the matter being adjourned a few times, Sikwenda has never missed court appearance whenever he was required to do so.
He said since the accident occurred, Sikwenda was incarcerated and was only released on January 13, this year following a bail application which Lusaka magistrate Felix Kaoma had earlier refused to grant him.
Nyirenda said his client was remorseful for the death of the 12 victims and that his employers have compensated the affected families and managed the funeral expenses of the accident victims.
He said that employers would not ordinarily come to the aid of their employees in such circumstances but they demonstrated their confidence in compensating the families of the victims.
In her judgment, justice Chibbabuka fined Sikwenda K9,000 to be paid before the end of the day, in default serve a jail term of six months simple imprisonment.