FOUR witnesses, including Dr Evans Mwengwe’s widow and brother, have testified in a murder trial in which four suspects are facing various charges in relation to his death.
This is in a matter in which Kenani Jere, 23, a businessman of Lusaka’s Katondo area; Doris Ndumba, a 23-year-old Student of Luangwa; Keegan Zulu, 38, a businessman of Chalala area; and Josat Tembo, 42, a Mechanic of new Chilenje are charged with one count of murder and another count of aggravated robbery.
In the first count, it is alleged that the four between June 10 and 12, 2021 in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together murdered Evans Mwape Mwengwe.
In the second count, they are alleged to have on the said dates stolen an Infinix phone valued at K5,000, a Macbook laptop valued at K23,800, two bags of Maize valued at K300, and a Mercedes Benz ML320 registration number BAB 2838 valued at US$14,500, property of Evans Mwape Mwengwe.
It is alleged that immediately before or after such stealing, the four did use or threatened to use actual violence on Dr Mwengwe in order to obtain, retain, prevent or overcome resistance of the items being stolen or retained.
It is alleged that Dr Mwengwe offered a lift to the four suspects from Bimas in Kabwe but his body was later found with severe burns on the upper part and partially on the thighs.
When the matter came up for trial before judge Joshua Banda, Tuesday, the first witness in the matter was Dr Mwenge’s widow Cecilia who testified that her husband left home on May 30th, 2021 and traveled to Serenje where he was scheduled to stay until June 10th, 2021.
She narrated that on June 10th, Dr Mwengwe called her saying he was heading back home and they kept communicating until he dropped off his mother in Kabwe and called her at around 19:00 hours to inform her that he was at a filling station in Kabwe.
“I tried to call him around 22:00 hours, but I could not get through. I kept calling his phone from 22hrs and the phone was switched off until about hours 01:00 in the morning. I then called my sister in law to inform her that my husband had not returned home. She too expressed worry and at 04:00, I alerted my son that the father had not returned. We woke up and went and sat in the living room where we started praying,” she narrated.
Cecilia recalled that around 10:00 hours the same day, the family started searching from Lusaka to Katuba toll plaza but were unsuccessful as they were told that they needed a search warrant for them to have access to some vital CCTV footage.
She told the court that on June 11, they reported the missing person case to Lusaka Central Police Station and they were told to come the following day.
She explained that after receiving a call that her husband’s wallet had been found in Kabangwe, they drove to the area with the police anti-motor vehicle theft unit to the house of the juvenile who is said to have picked the wallet.
Cecilia testified that after giving police a chance to do their work, they went to wait at a lodge and there, she heard her sister in law crying which is when she realised that something bad had happened to her husband.
“We drove back to the girl’s home, found police officers standing by the road and were informed that the body had been found not very far from the Chikumbi gravel road,” testified Cecilia.
She further stated that after burial on June 17, she received a call from by her brother-in-law on June 19 informing her that her husband’s vehicle had been recovered together with the insurance cover.
She said the vehicle was dismantled as the gearbox and tyres were missing.
The second witness, Ignatius Mwengwe testified that after receiving information that his brother never reached home after leaving Kabwe, he got in touch with someone from the Road Development Agency (RDA) and that person had confirmed that the vehicle passed Katuba toll plaza on the 10th June at 21:16 hours heading towards Lusaka.
He explained that after they went to Kabangwe with the police, they convinced the juvenile and her mother to take them where they found the wallet in question.
He testified that before they could reach where the wallet was found, a police officer by the name of Chileshe asked the driver to stop the car as he spotted something and upon following the officers, his brother’s body was discovered.
He said he identified his brother’s body which was partially burnt on the chest and back and there were some documents burnt on his back and that his jean trousers were also burnt.
He said his body was also partially undressed.
He added that the bush where the body was lying was also burnt.
Ignatius narrated that he also saw a rope tied around his brother’s neck, which looked like a very thick shoelace which was black in colour.
He said he noticed a sore on the right side of his forehead.
Another witness, David Tembo, who is a motor vehicle tyre vendor of Lusaka’s Chilenje area, said he was introduced to Keegan Zulu, accused number three, by his brother only identified as Lulu, as introduced as someone who was selling tyres with rims at order price.
“Negotiations for the items took 30 minutes. For the four tyres, I charged them K1,700 and got the rims at K1,800. The total was K3,500. I gave the money to Keagan. After 3 days, while at the shop around 09:00 hours, I just saw an Altezza and Nissan hard body arrive at my shop. I thought they were customers but when I approached, they were cops and Keagan was in handcuffs,” said Tembo.
He said that Keegan told the police that he sold the said items to him.
He said he accepted that he had indeed bought the tyres, but he informed them that three of them had already been sold while he still had the rims in his shop.
And when asked to identify the said Keegan, he positively identified the third accused.
He also positively identified the four Mercedes Benz rims and the remaining tyre which was seized from his shop.
And the fourth witness in the matter, Detective Inspector Joseph Chileshe, told the court that he interviewed an eight year old juvenile who found the wallet in the presence of her mother who later led them to where the wallet was found.
He said the body was found as they were heading to where the wallet was found.
He narrated that the body was found face down and partially burnt with a shoelace tied to the deceased’s neck.