Vespers’ mother weeps over ‘dragging’ inquest

Late Vespers Shimunzhila’s mother yesterday wept uncontrollably at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court as she demanded for a speedy inquest hearing to ascertain how her daughter came to her death last year.

This was after the Coroners’ Court adjourned the matter to today to enable a ballistic expert, a fire investigator, a doctor from Levy Mwanawasa Hospital and a scenes of crime officer to testify before other witnesses lined up by the State.

Vespers, who was a fourth year student at UNZA died in October last year after the police allegedly burnt one of the hostels using a tear gas canister during a student riot over delayed payment of meal allowances.

When the matter came up for continued hearing before coroner Sylvia Munyinya, Monday, the State told the court that they were ready to proceed with two witnesses.

However, coroner Munyinya guided that before the officers could testify, she wanted a ballistic expert, fire investigator, a doctor from Levy Mwanawasa Hospital and a scenes of crime officer to testify.

But when the court adjourned the matter to today, Vespers’ mother started weeping outside court demanding that her late daughter’s case should be heard.

She complained that she was coming all the way from Namwala, adding that those who killed her child were still walking freely.

“The matter should be heard. The person who was killed is my child. Those who did so are walking freely. They killed a child who was in school. We came all the way from Namwala only to be told that the case has been adjourned,” she said in Ila while weeping uncontrollably.

And when one of her relatives tried to console her, she said “let me weep”.

Last time when the matter came up, Chief Inspector Matthews Kumwenda told the Coroners’ Court that police officers fired teargas canisters and three live bullets in the air on the night of October 4, last year, during a protest by UNZA students which led to Vespers death in the early hours of October 5, 2018.

Meanwhile, an investigative officer Arthur Shonga told the court that his investigations could not identity the officers that fired the tear gas canisters but revealed that the command to fire the canisters was issued by supervisors of the officers.

He told the court that the police officers were from Lusaka Division, Lusaka Central, Woodlands and Kabwata Police stations, among three others.

Superintendent Shonga also revealed that former Lusaka Province deputy Police Commissioner Geoffrey Kunda was also giving instructions to the officers.

He added that Kunda had since been moved to Eastern Province in the same capacity.

Shonga further said the teargas was not supposed to be fired in closed areas because when used in closed areas, fire erupts.

Hearing continues on May 7 and 8.

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