NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili has asked Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga to arrest Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo for murder, accusing him of killing NDC youth chairperson Obed Kasongo.
But Lusambo says the allegations are baseless, challenging NDC to produce evidence that he hacked Kasongo.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission has called for the arrest of all suspects in connection to Kasongo’s death, further expressing concern over police inertia to arrest those close to the PF.
On Wednesday evening, Kambwili told journalists that Kasongo, who was injured “by Lusambo” during the Roan by-elections, died upon arrival at Levy Mwanawasa Hospital.
“Obed Kasongo was beaten and hacked by Bowman Lusambo and group during the Roan by election. Mr Kasongo died today upon arrival at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital. Since he left Luanshya, he has been bed ridden and complaining of a severe headache. Today they took him to the hospital in the morning, he was given some pain killers and sent home, when he went home, the headache because more severe that they decided to take him to the hospital and upon arrival, he was pronounced dead. Dockets have been opened over this attack, in fact it was a case of aggravated robbery because he was beaten and robbed of K15,000 plus three phones. The police in Luanshya have opened dockets but we are reliably informed that they have been told not to go ahead with the arrest of Bowman Lusambo and others,” said Kambwili.
“But today, we have lost him because of Police inefficiency. I want to call upon the police and authorities do immediately arrest and charge Bowman Lusambo and his group for pre medicated death. The man was hacked and he had about eight stitches on the wound but since then, he has never been well until his passing this morning. These are the kind of politics which the PF wants to bring to Zambia. And I want to urge Mrs Katanga to immediately arrest Bowman Lusambo for murder.”
But Lusambo denied the allegations in a Facebook post, accusing NDC of wanting to use Kasongo’s death for political expediency.
“I have been prompted to respond to malicious allegations issued by the NDC that border on criminal defamation of my personal character and that of the public office I occupy.
It is unfortunate that the NDC have chosen to play to the gallery and attempting to use a very unfortunate incident to settle cheap political scores. The scheme to link me to the reported death of an NDC official is not only callous but cheap and a very unAfrican manner of mourning a departed colleague.
Everyone who was in Roan before, during and after voting knows that I was nowhere the said violent incident,” wrote Lusambo.
“I therefore challenge the NDC to produce evidence that will show my role in the unfortunate incident. As we seek public office, I wish to appeal to my fellow politicians to exhibit some level of decency in their political approaches. If the death reports are true, I would wish to tender my condolences to the family of the deceased.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Thursday, the Human Rights Commission called for the arrest of all suspects in connection to Kasongo’s death.
“The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is deeply saddened at the death of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) youth Chairman, Mr Obed Kasongo who was hacked by political opponents during the Roan Parliamentary by-elections on 11th April 2019 and calls for the immediate arrest all the suspected perpetrators.
The death of the NDC youth leader is a clear case of deprivation of his Right to Life through organised violence by well-known suspects who were reported to Mpatamatu Police Station on 11th April 2019,” HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya stated.
“While observing the Roan Parliamentary by-elections, the Commission received a complaint that four NDC members by the names of Mr. Guston Mwila, Mr Obed Kasongo, a Mr. Musukwa and Mr Byson Phiri were brutally hacked with machetes and other weapons by suspected PF members and leaders during the early hours of 11th April 2019.”
Muleya stated that Kasongo had told the commission that he would have been killed on the material day if he didn’t scream out his name.
“The Commission engaged the Police who confirmed the incident and the fact that a named 25-year-old man was arrested and detained in connection with the physical assault of the four NDC members. The Commission also met with NDC members and leaders, in the company of the late Mr. Kasongo, who had gone to report at Mpatamatu Police Station. They complained that the detained suspect was just a sacrificial lamb because the suspect who had actually harmed Mr. Kasongo was still being seen driving around and was at the Police Station but he was let scot free. The late Mr. Kasongo expressed fear that if he did not scream that, ‘it is me Kasongo [while mentioning the name of one of his assailants] please don’t kill me’, he would have been killed on the spot during that same fateful early morning,” Muleya stated.
He stated that the HRC was concerning about police inertia to arrest suspects connected to the ruling party.
“As a National Human Rights Institution, we are extremely concerned at the established pattern of either unwillingness, failure, refusal or negligence by the Police to arrest and prosecute individuals associated with the ruling party that commit human rights violations and crimes, particularly against their political opponents. For instance, there is documentary evidence in form of a video that has been circulating for almost a month showing individuals verbally abusing NDC leader Dr. Chishimba Kambwili and his mother but to date, the suspects have not been arrested,” stated Muleya.
“Few days ago, PF members and leaders in Kabwe took the law into their own hands by storming Power FM Radio Station and hounded out Dr. Kambwili who was speaking on a programme, but no action has so far been taken against those who threatened violence and suppressed freedom of expression and media freedom. The lack of action by the police in the three stated incidents is in sharp contrast with the rapid police response against members of the opposition and other activists when they suspected or accused of breaching law and order…To this effect, the Commission will continue monitoring the action that will be taken against suspects accused of being responsible for the death of Mr. Kasongo; the individuals appearing in the video verbally abusing Dr. Kambwili and his mother and those who publicly justified taking the law into their own hands by disrupting a live discussion programme at Power FM Radio in Kabwe on 30th April 2019.”