Justice Minister Given Lubinda on Tuesday apologized to Parliament for alleging that a Macha man died as a result of physical injuries from mob justice when in fact, he died after being tortured by known police officers whilst in custody.
When Parliament resumed sitting, Lubinda told the House that he had given misleading information on Lemmy Mapeke’s death.
“The House may remember that on 22nd March 2018 during the last sitting of parliament when I was acting Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Ephraim Belemu, the Honourable member of parliament for Mbabala constituency raised an agent question for oral answer. The Honourable member through his question wished to know the following (a) whether the government was aware that a Mr Lemmy Mapeke died in police custody at Macha police on Friday 16th March 2018; (b) if so what circumstances led to his death? and (c) what measures were being taken to avert the occurrence of such deaths? Mr Speaker, my response to the above questions was that the government was aware of the death of Mr Mapeke who died on 16th March 2018. I informed the House that the deceased died whilst in police custody at Macha hospital. I further informed the House that the deceased was an ex-convict who was released on 16th November 2017 after having served a five year jail sentence. I went on to say that after his release, the deceased allegedly committed ten crimes of burglary, house breaking and theft which led to his arrest by a mob that handed him over to Macha police post on 10th March 2018. I further indicated that during his detention, the deceased led the police to the various places where he had sold the stolen items. The House was also informed that on 16th march 2018, Mr Mapeke fell ill and was taken to Macha mission hospital where he died,” Lubinda said.
“Sir, a post mortem conducted revealed that he died of internal bleeding as a result of a ruptured spline cause by physical injury. I further informed the House that the police shall continue to sensitize society not to apply instant mob justice on suspected criminals. Mr Speaker, in reaction to my response, Mr Belemu provided more information on the death of Mr Mapeke upon which I promised that in keeping with the mandate of my office as Minister of Justice, I would call for an investigation into the matter.”
He said after investigations, it emerged that Lemmy actually died after being tortured in police custody.
“I now wish to report the findings of my investigations to this August House. The investigations were conducted through the police public complaint commission. The findings Mr Speaker are as follows; (i) that Mr Lemmy Mapeke was not a victim of an instant mob justice, (ii) on the contrary, he was arrested by the police with the help of his father who had led the police to the village and house where Lemmy had been in hiding (iii) he was apprehended and detained along with his girl friend on 10th March 2018 by the police, and (iv) he died in police custody at Macha police post on 16th March 2018,” Lubinda explained.
“Mr Speaker, further findings from the witnesses indicate that Mr Mapeke was in fact beaten and tortured while in police custody by known police officers in conjunction with a known member of the neighbourhood watch association. The post mortem reports bruises and abrasions on the back side of the …of the victim and a ruptured spline which was identified as the direct cause of the death. Mr Speaker, the above findings were brought to the attention of the Inspector General of police through the permanent Ministry of Home Affairs.”
Lubinda then apologized for giving misleading information saying it was not deliberate.
“At this point, Mr Speaker, I wish to tender my sincere apology to you Mr Speaker and to the House at large for the misrepresentation of facts in the statement I delivered to the House on the 22nd of March, and to inform the House that sir, this was by no means intentional or deliberate on my part. Mr Speaker, I wish to further inform this August House, through you sir, that the perpetrators of this serious crime have been identified and they have been arrested and charged with murder and will be prosecuted accordingly. I have since received information sir that the trio will appear in court tomorrow. Sir, the PF government under His Excellency President Lungu is against the violation of Human Rights, rather, it respects the rule of law in the criminal justice process. Government does not condone torture and abuse of power by government officers,” said Lubinda.