Trial has commenced in a matter in which former Family Health Trust executive director Benny Zulu is charged with murder of a 19-year-old woman whose body was discovered dumped in the outskirts of Lusaka.

The mother of the deceased testified before the Lusaka High Court that her daughter received a phone call from an unknown person before she disappeared from home.

In this matter, Zulu is charged with murder and particulars of the offence are that on July 9 this year, he murdered Natasha Mukandawire.

When the matter came up for trial before Lusaka High Court judge Wilfred Muma, Monday, Mkandawire’s mother, Mulipa Besa, a teacher, testified that her daughter went missing from home after she spoke to someone on phone.

Besa told the court that whilst she was preparing a lesson plan in her sitting room at their Ngwerere home on July 9 this year, her daughter came out of her bedroom around 20:00 hours while speaking to someone on phone.

She said Mkandawire went to the kitchen and told her two siblings to escort her outside but after a few minutes, the siblings returned without her.

Besa said when she asked the siblings where Mkandawire was, one of them assured her that she would be back soon, but that did not materialize.

She said she sent her daughter a text message asking her where she was, but the message was not delivered and she knew in that moment that Natasha’s phone was off.

Besa said after about 30 minutes, she called Natasha but her phone was still off.

She further told the court that she started calling her family members including her older brother, Jackson Besa, informing them that Mkandawire was missing from home but they advised her to be patient.

Besa said the following day, she reported for work and that around 15:30 hours, she reported to Ngwerere Police Station about her missing daughter and told the police that Mkandawire was last seen clad in white leggings, black sleeveless top, bush green head sock and purple slippers.

Besa said on July 11, this year, she received a phone call from Ngwerere Police Station and when she went there, she was informed that officers had picked an unidentified body and that she should go and check at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) mortuary.

She testified that her older brother went to the mortuary where he indeed identified Mkandawire’s body.

Asked in cross examination by the defence lawyer whether her daughter had a boyfriend, Besa said yes.

She told the court that she knew Mkandawire’s boyfriend as Ignatius Chikoloma, a police officer at Ngwerere Police Station because her daughter used to talk about him on a daily basis, adding that she also used to receive gifts from him.

Further asked whether she knew Zulu, Besa said yes and explained that she knew him only as a Ngwerere resident.

Trial continues on Wednesday.