Five farmers accused of burning five girls of the same family to death in Shibuyunji district, yesterday appeared before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court for explanation of the charges of murder and arson.

The five girls died in July this year between 22 and 23:00 hours after the grass thatched house they were sleeping in was torched.

Stembridge Mweemba, 24; Masha Mweemba, 29; Trust Chiwena, 22; Mostard Mweemba, 33 and Simon Mweemba, 25, who are all farmers of Shibuyunji district, have been jointly charged with one count of arson and five counts of murder.

Particulars of the offence in the first count allege that Stembridge, Masha, Trust, Mostard and Simon on July 6 this year in Lusaka, jointly and whilst acting together wilfully and unlawfully set the house of Mathews Milimo on fire.

And in count two to count six, it is alleged that the five, on the same date, murdered Marble Mweeba, Getrude Mweeba, Jean Mweeba, Nora Mweeba and Emily Mweeba.

The deceased are aged between 12 and 17 and all of Shikalembula village in Chief Shakumbila’s area.

When the matter came up for allocation, Wednesday, chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale allocated the matter to magistrate Jennifer Bwalya for explanation of the charge.

Magistrate Bwalya explained the charges of arson and murder to the five accused persons to which they said they understood.

At this point, she informed the accused that they would only be appearing before her for mention, awaiting instructions from the Director of Public prosecutions (DPP) to have their case committed to the High Court as the charges they were facing were only tried by the higher court.

Magistrate Bwalya then adjourned the matter to October 16, for mention.