THE Council of Churches in Zambia says it is shocked by the story of two convicts reported to have gone on rampage raping and murdering women and later burying them at Mukuyu farms.
This was after escaping custody from Mukobeko Correctional facility.
“As CCZ, we send our heartfelt sincere condolences to the families affected by these unfortunate incidents. We pray that the families will find hope and strength as they try to endure this dark cloud that has fallen before them,” general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya said.
“For us, we want to state it categorically that any form of Gender Based Violence (GBV) against women or girls should be condemned in its strongest terms. However, as the saying goes, ‘Knowing the source of a problem is more important than solving it’. We want to go back to the genesis of this matter.”
Fr Chikoya said according to CCZ’s findings, the suspects escaped custody on April 7, 2021 and were arrested 46 days later.
He said shockingly, during the time of their escape, it was believed that Joseph Chiteta and Miles Malaya began to contact relatives of those serving jail sentences to come to Mukobeko Maximum and Medium Correctional Facilities in a bid to negotiate for their relative’s possible release on parole on the pretext that they were prison wardens.
Fr Chikoya said the whole story raises more questions than answers.
“One would wonder how they were accessing the contacts, where they used to meet these women and what time they were burying them after brutally raping them. But before we get to that, what seeks immediate action, especially to the bereaved families, is that justice must prevail! And it must be seen. We are aware and glad that government regrets the whole incident,” he said.
“Nevertheless, there is a leaf we can pick from this unfortunate incident, especially in light of the signed arguably controversial law which some sections of the media say the law will empower inmates with a two week leave to visit their families.”
He said according to a media statement issued on May 28, 2021 by the Zambia Correctional Service, it sets the records straight that the law does not specify the period of two weeks but rather states that the act stipulates that the President may release on ‘licence’ an inmate serving a term of imprisonment for life, subject to condition specified in the license, and may modify or cancel any condition.
Fr Chikoya said the act further states that the President might by order, revoke a license of an inmate that has been released.
“We appreciate ZCS for quickly settling the dust in time. However, our appeal also is that the government should begin to sniff out the alleged corruption being swept under the carpet in facilitating recommendations for pardoning of inmates,” he said.
He said although on the surface it might appear like convicts were sent to prisons to be punished, the truth was that they are sent to be reformed so that they become better people.
Fr Chikoya said the worry was that if the criteria for pardoning were somehow ‘leaking’ then that imposes a serious threat on the safety of society at large on what kind of people were being sent back to the community.
“We can’t imagine the extent at which the killings and raping of women could have gone if the suspect was not arrested by the police. This raises a serious concern to have circumstances’ revisited in which inmates may be seen fit to leave the prison walls,” he said. “What is more heart breaking is the involvement of a four-months old baby whose life was cut short at the hands of the suspect. It is sad to note that innocent lives have to be lost in such a manner. Once again, we demand that justice should prevail. We still have many questions hanging on why and how the suspects had access to the details of other inmate’s families. We hope and trust that these answers will be brought to light as the story unfolds.”