TWO Zambia Army soldiers and two civilians have appealed to the Court of Appeal challenging the death sentence imposed on them by the Lusaka High Court for the murder of seven male Lusaka residents during the spate of ritual killings between March and April 2016.
This is in a matter where Lucky Siame, a warrant officer class two from signal squadron at Zambia Army headquarters (Arakan Baracks), Lewis Chishimba Bwalya a witch doctor, Christopher Kasapo a Zambia Airforce office assistant and Elvis Nyanga a soldier (staff sergeant in Solwezi) were jointly charged with seven counts of murder.
Siame, Bwalya, Kasapo and Nyanga on dates unknown but between March 5 and April 16, 2016 allegedly murdered Clever Changwe, William Chela, Elias Phiri, Boris Muzumara, Alex Zulu, Amon Sichamba and Anthony Mwape.
The victims who were murdered in a similar manner were discovered in George, Lilanda, Zingalume and Matero townships and had their heads crushed with stones, with their hearts removed while their ears, and male organs were mutilated. Big concrete blocks soiled with blood were discovered at every crime scene.
In her abridged judgment dated April 6, 2016 retired judge Florence Lengalenga ruled out the issue of mistaken identity although it was impossible for the assailants to be identified, despite the murders having been committed during the night.
She anchored the prosecution’s case on the evidence of Lwambazi Mumbo, a witch doctor, who testified that he cleansed the convicts of evil spirits.
Mumbo told the court that the four were being haunted by ghosts of the seven men they had murdered. He claimed he was introduced to the four by Siame’s wife who requested that their house in Zecco Camp be exorcised of evil spirits.
“I am satisfied that this is the basis on which Mumbo claimed to identify Siame as the person he cleansed,” judge Lengalenga said.
She ruled that Mumbo identified the quartet because he had not only met the convicts at night but he also met them during the day and cleansed them of evil spirits on Kasupe road in Lusaka West, which proves that the four were correctly identified.
Judge Lengalenga said Mumbo testified that he was introduced to Bwalya, Kasapo and Collins whom he identified in court as Nyanga by Siame.
She said although mumbo did not mention Bwalya of being among the men he cleansed there was other evidence of how they met and Mumbo’s evidence implicated him of being part of the ritual killings because he (Bwalya) asked the latter to help him cleanse Siame and his colleagues of evil spirits on the premise that they were behind the killings that hit Lusaka at the time.
“Even though he was not cleansed but mentioned that he needed help, the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt because they (convicts) had a common intention,” judge Lengalenga said.
She said on the part of Kasapo there was overwhelming evidence on the role he played in the killings as Mumbo had mentioned that he was informed by the convicts that Kasapo was the supplier of the medicine that was used to paralyse the victims prior to their murder.
On the part of Nyanga, judge Lengalenga ruled out his evidence and the explanation by his supervisors that he was at work on the dates when the murders occurred, as the phone number Mumbo had mentioned in court which was used to trace him (Nyanga) was the same number he produced during his defence.
“For Nyanga he was in Solwezi but I noted that Mumbo claimed that he received a call from “Collins” and Nyanga was identified at an identification parade. Although he has presented an alibi it was negated by the ID parade. Coincidences that tie up the identification by Mumbo and the MTN number he gave the police are some of the numbers Nyanga used in his defense,” said judge lengalenga.
But Nyanga in his four grounds of appeal said judge Lengalenga erred in law and fact when she convicted him on purely circumstantial evidence despite having proved the alibi.
Nyanga’s defence witness Lieutenant Colonel Elias Zulu, a staff officer at Zambia Army headquarters in Arakan Barracks in charge of manpower administration under human resource, said Nyanga was present during daily parades at North Western region in Solwezi.
Colonel Zulu told the court that Nyanga was not absent from work on March 15, 16, 17, and April 2016 when the gruesome ritual murders were allegedly committed as he was at his duty station.
The convict said the retired judge erred in law and fact when she convicted him despite having established that there was a dereliction of duty on the part of the prosecution.
Nyanga contended that the trial judge erred in law and fact and fell in grave error when she convicted him on the evidence of a witch doctor Mumbo.
He added that judge Lengalenga erred in law and fact when she convicted him based on the evidence of Mumbo and the identification parade despite several improprieties having been highlighted by him.
Nyanga indicated that he will avail the court with more grounds of appeal. His three accomplices who have only filed their notice to appeal indicated that they will file their grounds of appeal upon perusing the case record.