The Ndola High Court has acquitted a police officer and his co accused of a murder charge.
This is in a case in which Muzamu Banda, a police officer stationed at Lubuto Police Post in Ndola, and Collins Changala were jointly charged with the murder of truck driver Obed Nkhoma.
It was alleged that Banda and Changala on December 27, 2016 jointly and whilst acting together murdered Nkhoma contrary to the Laws of Zambia.
Ndola High Court judge in charge Emilie Sunkutu said the prosecution team failed to prove the case of murder.
She explained that no witness brought before court finger-pointed any of the two accused persons as the ones fired the gun which resulted in Nkhoma’s death.
She added that there was no joint enterprise in retention of the second accused person as witnesses only adduced evidence that he was in the company of the first accused person.
“It is not in dispute that the accused person were identified by the witnesses of having been at the at the residence of the deceased person on the material day he was shot.All what the witnesses said was that they heard gun shots.There is evidence, not challenged and accepted, that the deceased and two accused persons did struggle before gun shots were heard. The police did not pick finger prints from the gun to assist in the evidence, hence the truth lies in the accused police officer and the deceased to tell full truth on who fired the gun shot,” she said.
Judge Sunkutu however noted that the police officer in the matter was overzealous by following up a deceased in the wee hours of the morning.
“Since the prosecution failed to prove height of standard proof beyond reasonable doubt, they asked for an alternative for manslaughter charge. I am constrained to do so having looked at the evidence before me because of the gaps unresolved on who fired the gun shot in the absence of fingers points. The circumstance has left the accused persons with a benefit of doubt,” she said.
She stated that despite the police officer being in possession of the fire arm identified to have been used in injuring the deceased ,it did not automatically mean that he fired the gun.
She found the two accused persons not guilty of the offence and acquitted them accordingly.
Meanwhile, the Ndola judge-in-charge has described interference in the police service as unfortunate.
“It is unfortunate that a life was lost but again it is unacceptable that superiors did direct the officer in question to arrest and charge the accused persons going against his independent decision following standard procedure.He said it in this court that directives to charge them (accused) came from his superiors.This is all unfortunate because the job of an investigative officer is to investigate the case to his or her ability ,gather evidence and then decide whether or not to charge a suspect,”said judge Sunkutu.
Judge Sukuntu said the requirement for police officers to act professionally was not negotiable.