Lusaka High Court judge Susan Wanjelani has convicted and sentenced Chilanga UPND Member of Parliament Keith Mukata to death by hanging for killing his security guard Namakambwa Kalilakwenda.
Mukata was jointly charged with his partner Charmaine Musonda who has since been acquitted on grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against her.
In her judgment, Wednesday, Justice Wanjelani said she was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Mukata’s guard died from gun shots which were discharged by him.
The court said Mukata’s testimony that more cartridges were found outside the gate was false and based on hearsay evidence.
“It is common cause that the deceased was facing his killer at close range. I therefore find that the deceased could not have been killed by a gunshot from outside the gate but from inside,” she said.
Justice Wanjelani also ruled that she found it as a fact and agreed with the pathologist and the Ballistic expert that the deceased was shot from the face-to-face position and that it was also a fact that three gun shots were fired by the convict as evident that three cartridges were found at the scene which was also in line with what the witnesses said that they heard three gunshots.
She said she was satisfied that the prosecution’s evidence was overwhelming.
Justice Wanjelani ruled that there was a conflict between where the firearm and keys of the BMW were found but said that had no impact on the case.
She however noted that it was unprofessional on the side of the police to contaminate the scene by allowing people to take pictures of the crime scene and post on social media.
In mitigation, one of Mukata’s lawyers Milner Katolo asked the court not to impose a death sentence on his client but to consider imposing a custodial sentence.
Katolo claimed Mukata acted in self defense and he now regretted the death of his security guard.
But in sentencing, the court ruled that the sentence for murder was death unless there were insinuating circumstances, which the accused has failed to prove in his mitigation.
“I therefore sentence you to death by hanging and I aquit the second accused forthwith,” said Justice Wanjelani.
Meanwhile, Mukata’s relatives were heartbroken by the sentence and a few of them fainted in the courtroom.
When Mukata arrived in court, he appeared to be in high spirits but that changed the moment he realised that he would be convicted.
In this case, the prosecution called seven witnesses while Mukata called five witnesses and Musonda opted to remain silent.
Mukata and his lover were jointly charged for Kalilakwenda’s murder on May 6, 2017.
In his defense, Mukata had claimed that on the material day, two attackers raided his law firm and one of them shot his security guard.
He said he arrived at his law firm, AKM Legal Practitioners around 14:00 hours and that his friend Suke Chile, a musician, visited him around 18:00 hours to organise a fundraising event for one of the hospices in Chilanga.
He narrated that around 19:30, his uncle arrived in the company of his friend and they started chatting.
Mukata testified that around 20:30, Charmine arrived from Makeni but informed him that she was just passing time as she had a meeting a Raddison Blu.
“At 21:00 hours, she left and came back about an hour 30 minutes later. Around 24:00 hours, uncle decided to take leave. Soon afterwards, Charmine also wanted to leave. She took her bag and a basket which she had used to bring food for me that same morning,” he said.
He narrated that as they were still in the office, his guard went to his window and alerted him that he had seen some intruders at the servants quarter.
“I told him to alert his friend, the guard next door as well. I told him to investigate and advise. I went to the back of the door, and I decided to alert a friend of mine honorable [Stephen] Kampyongo about the intrusion. Barely three weeks earlier, we had the same incident where people had entered our yard. I had called honorable Kampyongo again and he had helped by dispatching C5. When they came they were interrogating two people whom they met on the road,” Mukata testified.
“But on the material day when I informed honorabole Kampyongo the officers did not arrive fast. I had just finished talking to him on the phone when the guard reappeared at my window and he told me that after checking, he found that the small gate at the back was open. I told him that I had called for help so police reinforcement was on its way.”
Mukata told the court that Charmine then went outside and he followed her behind.
“I saw a tall guy holding Charmine. He let go of her hands and he ran towards me. I was in the car and I applied brakes, I came out of the car and ran to the gate, there was a man wrestling with the guard. I realized that we were in a dangerous situation. I got my fire arm and fired two warning shots in the air. There was no reason to fire directly to the gate because there was a guard,” he narrated.
He testified that he only fired warning shots to alert people that he was armed.
He said after he fired the second shot, he heard a gunshot from outside.
“I lost my nerve, I ran to the left, I was shouting for help. I said ‘help! Bakabwalala (thieves)! I heard two gun shots from outside. I got scared, I realized that these people were carrying weapons. I noticed they were trying to pull the guard out of the gate. They were clustered at the gate, I was screaming for help and I heard the guard shout, ‘Bo honourable! They have shot me!’ He was crying in pain. At that point, I fired another shot and he was screaming for help. They ran away. I found the guard laying down, holding himself on the neck,” Mukata told the court.
“I took away his hand and sat him upright. I rushed outside for help. I had no idea where Charmaine was. I went to the VX vehicle and brought it near the guard. I wanted to lift him but he was too heavy and he was wincing with pain. I started calling for help, I wanted to get him to the vehicle. I called Charmaine and asked her to help. She was shaking, she held him and we tried to lift him but we failed.”
He testified that he went to the restaurant next door and asked the owner, Kumar, to help him lift the guard but he refused.
“He refused and he closed the gate. He told me that he had already alerted police so I should wait for the police. I was shocked with the way he behaved. At that point I called honorable Kampyongo and informed him that the officers had not arrived and he said ‘mwana, I am home but let me call them again’,” he said.
Mukata told the court that when he returned to the law firm, he found police officers who picked him, the body and Charmine.
Mukata said there was no way he could have murdered his guard adding that he used to pay rentals for the deceased as his company, Men in Black Security company never paid him well.