A 34-year-old truck driver of Kabwe, who allegedly hit into a tavern in Lusaka’s Buseko Market, killing 12 people, has been charged with 12 counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Elias Sikwenda appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court yesterday for explanation of the charges.

Several people died and others were were left injured after a truck driven by Sikwenda lost control and plunged into a bar last month.

According to a statement issued by Deputy Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga, the incident happened after a truck belonging to BHL, driven by Sikwenda, lost control due to excessive speed as he was trying to avoid a truck that was reversing into Lumumba Road at Puma filling station near Buseko Market.

He then went to hit into a parked Corolla, Zesco pole and finally into a tavern, 30 metres away from the road where the deceased were watching a football match.

Sikwenda is now facing 12 counts of causing death by dangerous driving, contrary to Section 161 (1) of the Road Traffic Act No 11 of 2002 of the laws of Zambia.

Particulars of the offence in the matter are that on October 25, 2019, in Lusaka, Sikwenda caused the death of Michael Mulenga; Charles Kunda; Fredrick Mwana; Jack Phiri; Sam Mbewe; Chileshe Bwalya; Given Simovwa; Silota Mwanagombe; Steven Zimba; Brian Chabala; Frank Jere and Aswell Banda.

The incident is alleged to have happened whilst Sikwenda was driving a motor vehicle, namely, Howo Truck and Trailer bearing Registration Number AlB 3214 and 23323 BW on a public road, namely, Lumumba Road.

He was allegedly driving in a manner, which was dangerous to the public and other road users having regard to all the circumstances, the case, including the nature, condition and use the road and the amount of traffic, which was actually at the time on the road, which might reasonably be expected to be on the said road.

Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale allocated the matter to Magistrate Felix Kaoma yesterday where Sikwenda had the charges explained to him to which he said he understood.

At this point, Magistrate Kaoma informed Sikwenda that he would not take plea in his Court as the charges he was facing were only tried in the High Court.

He added that Sikwenda would only be appearing before him for mention awaiting instructions from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to commit him to the High Court for trial.

Sikwenda then applied for bail, pending trial to which the State did not object.

However, Magistrate Kaoma denied him bail, saying it was taking a risk to grant the accused bail without the State verifying if he was a flight risk owing to the number of counts and knowing that he was not from Lusaka.

“Bail pending trial is granted to an accused because he is innocent until proven guilty. However, the decision is to ensure that the accused attends court when called upon. In this matter, it is taking a risk to grant the accused bail without the State verifying if he is a flight risk owing to the number of counts and knowing that you are not from Lusaka. I will not grant you bail,” ruled Magistrate Kaoma.

The matter comes up on November 27, 2019, for mention.