When Police asked me if I have ever killed someone, I told them that from 1994, we have not experienced war so I have never killed anyone, a Zambia Army soldier has told the Lusaka High Court in a ritual killings case.
Opening his defence in a case he is jointly charged with three others for allegedly murdering seven people in suspected ritual killings that rocked Lusaka’s George and Zingalume compounds in 2016, Elvis Nyanga told the court that he knew nothing about the killings which were being alleged by the Police as he was not a killer.
Nyanga said he told the Police that from January 2016 to April 2016 when he was arrested, he had never been in Lusaka.
In this matter, Lucky Siame, a soldier, Lewis Chishimba, a traditional healer of Lusaka West, Christopher Kasapo, an Office Assistant at the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) and Nyanga, a soldier of Solwezi, are facing seven counts of murder.
The four are alleged to have murdered Clever Changwe Mwape, William Chela, Elias Phiri, Alex Zulu, Boris Muzumara, Amon Sichamba and Anthony Mwaba between March 5 and April 16, 2016.
When the matter came up for a defence before Court of Appeal judge Florence Lengalenga who sat as High Court judge, Tuesday, Nyanga, 45, told the court that before his arrest, he was stationed at Solwezi, North-Western command under transport department operating as a bus driver.
He said it was in April 2016 when he was called by the police that he avails himself at Solwezi Central Police, which he did with his family.
Nyanga said once there, a plaincloth police officer took him to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where he found eight other officers.
He said the officers removed a picture and asked him whether he was the one in it, to which he agreed.
“In the picture, I was in a combat and behind me was a land cruiser. One of the officers introduced himself as Silwiya from Lusaka and told me that I was supposed to go with them to Lusaka for questioning,” Nyanga said.
He said the officers asked him to give them the number for his officers and when one of them answered, they informed the officer about his detention.
Nyanga said he tried to ask why he was being detained but they refused to tell him.
He said he spent a night at the police station and following day around 12:00 hours, they took him to his house for a search but found nothing.
The accused said after the search, the officers told him that they were starting off for Lusaka.
He said he asked them why he was being arrested but they promised to tell him when they started off for Lusaka.
Nyanga said when they left Solwezi, the officers asked him to tell them about his friend in Lusaka but he informed them that he had never stayed in the capital city and he had no friends there.
He said he was then asked where he was staying before moving to Solwezi, and he told them that he was in Ndola from 1994 to 2014.
Nyanga said other questions were asked about him, including whether he had ever killed someone.
“I answered that from 1994, we have not experienced war so I have never killed anyone. They told me that the reason we are taking you to Lusaka is that you were killing people but I told the officer that I am not a killer,” he said.
Nyanga said when he was asked if he had been to a witchdoctor, he responded that he was a Seventh Day Adventist and didn’t go to witch doctors.
He said they arrived in Lusaka around 01:30 hours and he was taken to Kabwata Police Station where he stayed in cells for two days.
Nyanga said on the third day, he and eight others were paraded outside for identification, and that a certain man identified him by touching his shoulder.
He said when one officer asked him if he knew the man who had identified him, he responded in the negative.
Nyanga said after that, some police officers got him from the cells, tied a cloth around his face and took him to a cruiser where he was told to lie facing down in the vehicle and they left.
He told the court that he did not know where they were going, adding when they reached somewhere, he was told to disembark the vehicle with his face still covered.
Nyanga said he did so with the help of one officer.
The accused testified that he was then taken into a room where they removed the cloth that covered his face.
“In the room which was quite big, there were two tables. They (police officers) told me that ‘here where we are, you will tell us what you know’,” Nyanga said.
He said there were about six to 10 plaincloth police officers in the room when her was told to undress completely and sit down.
Nyanga said the officers told him that if he didn’t tell them the truth, they would beat him up.
He said he told the officers that he knew nothing and that he stayed in Solwezi.
“I told them just do what you want to do, I’m innocent. One officer asked if I was sure that I stay in Solwezi and I said yes,” Nyanga said.
The accused said he was then asked to dress up after questioning and that he was not beaten.
Nyanga said they went back to Kabwata Police Station where he was left.
He said after seven days, he was taken to Woodlands Police Station where he was introduced to three other suspects he found there.
Nyanga said when a warn and caution statement was being recorded from him, he told the police officers that he was in Solwezi during the time the time the alleged offences were committed.
He added that he also gave the officers his three phone numbers to prove that he had never communicated with the three suspects he found at Woodlands Police Station.
Nyanga further told the court that he told the officers that from January to April 2016 when he was arrested, he had never been to Lusaka.
He said they were taken to the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court after warn and caution statements were recorded at Woodlands Police Station.