Police officers pushed ZAF Sgt as he fell on his head, witness tells court

A witness has told the Lusaka High Court that a female police officer ordered other officers at Woodlands Police station to push ZAF flight sergeant Mark Choongwa into a cell where he landed on the floor, hitting the back of his head.

In this matter, Veronica Shawa, 44, a police officer of SOS Humanitarian area, Mike Kapale, 39, of State Lodge, Lyton Mwale, 37, of Mtendere and James Ngulube, 27, of Bauleni township, are charged with manslaughter contrary to section 199 of the Penal Code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that the quartet, on March 18 last year, whilst acting together, unlawfully caused the death of Choongwa.

When the matter came up for commencement of trial before Justice Mwila Kombe, Monday, Katongo Mulenga, a female business woman currently serving a seven-year jail sentence, narrated that while in detention at Woodlands police station, she saw Sergeant Choongwa being dragged and pushed into a police cell.

She testified that on May 17, 2018, around 22:00 hours Sergeant Choongwa was taken in as a suspect and she recognized him on a personal level.

“When I saw how he was being dragged, I told the arresting officer that I knew him and that he was a ZAF Sergeant and that they should pull him properly. At that point, a female police officer who seemed to be in command, answered and said ‘nivanu ivo vamene muzibana panja’ (I don’t care how you know each other),” she narrated.

Mulenga testified that after pushing Sergeant Choongwa, police officers left him in the cell and when the other inmates noticed that there was a change in his breathing, they started calling for help.

She narrated that when the police came, and upon seeing that Sergeant Choongwa was in a bad state, they suggested that he should be made to sit up.

Mulenga explained that at that moment, Sergeant Choongwa’s breathing had changed and his mouth was foaming.

She narrated that it was then that Sergeant Choongwa was carried out of the cell, unconscious.

And another witness, Silvia Munengwa identified Shawa and Kapali in the dock as being among the police officers that brutalised Sergeant Choongwa.

She said at the time of the incident, she was in detention at Woodlands police station and that she saw Sergeant Choongwa being carried out of the cell unconscious.

The matter comes up on August 14 2018 for continuation of trial.

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