Pathologist testifies in ritual killing case

A State Forensic Pathologist has testified in the Lusaka High Court that after examining the body of an unidentified victim, he found an opening below the rib cage with the heart and liver missing, while the ears and penis were cut off.

The witness further testified that victims in the suspected ritual killings case died from blunt force head injuries before their body parts were mutilated.

Mubanga Mucheleng’anga was testifying in the matter in which a 30-year-old man of Lusaka is accused of murdering seven people in suspected ritual circumstances.

Nickson Tembo, a street vendor of house number 143/13 in Lilanda West, is alleged to have murdered seven people in Matero Township.

Details of the matter are that the murders were done between December 2017 and February 2018.

When the matter came up before High Court judge Catherine Phiri, Wednesday, Dr Mucheleng’anga told the court that on a date he could not recall, he was tasked to conduct a postmortem on a body found in Matero which was brought to him by police officers.

He said he proceeded to conduct a postmortem after seeing the order from the coroner, adding that he procceeded to prepare a report which he handed over to police.

Dr Muchelenganga said after examining the body of the unidentified victim, he found a chop wound on the forehead, abrasions on the face, scratches on the skin and a fracture on the skull.

“There was an opening below the rib cage measuring 35 centimetres, the heart and liver were missing, the ears were cut off and the penis was also decapitated,” he said.

Dr Muchelenganga disclosed that after examing the body, a pot was taken to him by the investigation officer containing a heart that apeared and smelt as if it was cooked, and a liver.

He said he knew it was a human heart because the way it appeared was consistent with other human hearts he had seen.

“The samples were not sent for DNA testing, we needed an expert in forensics to tell us if we can extract DNA from the cooked samples,” he said.

Dr Muchelenganga said a reconstruction was also done to demontrate that the penis was chopped off from the victim.

He added that since the cooked organs were found at the crime scene, it was logical to infer that they may have been obtained from the deceased.

Dr Muchelenganga further testified that other postmortem reports conducted on several other bodies by his fellow pathologists showed similar results as the one for the unidentified victim.

He told the court that findings from postmortems conducted on the bodies revealed chopped wounds caused by a sharp instrument leading to fractured skulls and brain bleed, which was the cause of death.

The witness identified some of the victims as Mabvuto Phiri, Levis Mwabuka and Jack Tembo.

Trial continues.

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